Discovery Academy helps local kids with needs

Cases of Autism have risen dramatically in recent years. In fact, every 20 minutes a new child is diagnosed with Autism.

The Discovery Academy at T.J. Samson Hospital works not only with Autistic children, but with children who have many different special needs.

As part of Autism Awareness Month Laura rogers visited the Discovery Academy to see how the children are learning and growing.

Zackery Spears runs and plays like any other eight-year-old child. He's full of energy and spunk. The only difference is Zackery has Sensory Integration Dysfunction, which means his brain doesn't properly take in information from his senses.

"At first he was very timid. He wouldn't go in and shut a door, especially in bathrooms or closed rooms," said Tammy Spears, Zackery's mother.

According to Tammy, the Discovery Academy has done wonders with her son.

"Linda and them have been super. They have come in and worked with him; and it's not a force thing. It's a step by step gradual process. And even I've been surprised, he said 'I've got so much to tell you mama. I can go in here and shut the door.'."

The Discovery Academy at T.J. Samson Hospital in Glasgow, Ky., works with children who have special needs from kids like Zackery to little Cameron Hall who has Autism. Cameron's mother, Dana, said he is the poster child for early intervention. He was diagnosed at 18-months old.

"Children with Autism require intense therapy, 25-40 hours a week, because they lose a lot of skills and have to rebuild skills they lose. It's very exhausting for parents and therapists," said Dana Hall.

"We've seen significant progress in our children," said Linda Veldman of the Discovery Center.

For example: "Zackery, were you scared to get on the elevator?" Laura Rogers asked.

"Yeah," Zackery said.

"Are you scared now?" Rogers asked.

"I can get on one of them but not all of them," Zackery said.

The Discovery Academy has a waiting list of children needing its services. It hopes to one day expand into a larger facility, so it can meet the needs of more children.

The Discovery Academy Walk that was originally planned for April 14, 2007, has been postponed to May 12, 2007, due to rain. It will be at Beaver Trail Park in Glasgow, Ky., and will include games, food and other children's activities.

For more information on the Discovery Academy you can contact T.J. Samson Hospital at the 270-651-4480 or at For more information on the Discovery Academy Walk click here.

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