Lost Inside - Part Two

By: Amy Bingham
By: Amy Bingham

More than a half million children in the U.S. have autism, a neurological disorder that affects the development of a child's brain.

Many families in Kentucky have been devastated by the diagnosis often going through stages commonly associated with grief, denial, anger and eventually acceptance.

With that acceptance comes the realization that life won't be quite like they imagined.

When John and Linda Kelly's daughter was diagnosed with autism in the late 80's, they had never heard the word before and didn't know what it meant.

Now, nearly 20 years later, they are relishing the progress she is making, in spite of all the odds against her.

Victoria Kelly has certain tasks every morning at Warren Central High School, delivering newspapers to faculty, even sorting their mail.

When Victoria was around 18 months old her mother decided to have her evaluated because her speech wasn't developing like it should.

At the time, the Kelly's were told Victoria had autistic characteristics. Without language to build from, therapists concentrated on her fine motor skills, teaching her to do things we take for granted, such as dressing herself and feeding herself.

At age 11, Victoria grew increasingly frustrated with her inability to talk sometimes screaming in a fit of rage. It's part of dealing with autism. The family's goal was constant, to make sure Victoria could thrive and have as full a life as possible.

Victoria has one more year of high school to hone her social and job skills.

She's no stranger to the workforce in our community and recently landed a clerical position at WKU

Her parents would like to think Victoria could one day live more independently if she wants to, but until then they're happy to have her at home.

In 2002, they partnered with Western Kentucky University to form the Kelly Autism Program (KAP), dedicated to adolescents and young adults diagnosed with autism.

Find out how the KAP program works and how it fits in with the university's new clinical education complex Friday in part three of lost inside.

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