CNY family cites controversial treatment in battle with autism

Brittany Jung, 17

Brittany Jung is a normal happy 17-year-old looking forward to graduating from Oswego High and pursuing a career in art, but fifteen years ago, Brittany's future was in doubt.

In 1996, when she was 2 years old, Brittany Jung was among several children CNY Central TMs Jim Kenyon featured in a special report, Faces of Autism. It was difficult to watch as she went into a screaming fit that lasted 45 minutes, while her mother Robin Jung was told to ignore her.

When Brittany was a toddler, she received services through Arc of Oswego County's infant and pre-school developmental services program run out of a group of small offices in Fulton. The people there help children from the time they're born until they are three years old. They go into each child's home and work closely with families and therapists.

Until recently, Brittany had no idea she had been diagnosed with autism when she was so young. Her mother told her about our special report just days ago.

After Brittany saw the special report, Jim Kenyon asked what was going through her mind while watching the video. Brittany said, "I couldn't believe I acted like that. I kind of remember thinking I didn't want to look at anyone or anyone to see me."

Brittany does not remember much about her early years, but she does remember that she had been constantly tutored by her mother and therapists as part of an early intervention. Today she finds it hard to believe that she was considered autistic.

After fifteen years, Brittany TMs proud mother reached out to CNY Central. "I worked so hard for her to be where she is today. I'm proud of her, so very proud of her, Robin said.

"According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 1 in 110 children in the united states have some form of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), a group of developmental disabilities in which a child's brain handles information differently than others. ASDs can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral problems. Most experts agree that the earlier a child receives treatment, the better he or she can acquire early developmental skills as they grow older, Robin explained.

Our story in 1996 focused on the need for parents and therapists to constantly work with autistic children in an early intervention program so some could be better prepared for pre-school.

Robin spent 8 hours a day, everyday, working with her daughter Brittany. I think I was lucky. She didn't give up or anything," Brittany said.

Robin said Brittany responded so well to her early intervention that by the time she entered preschool she was on a par with other children her age. When Brittany entered kindergarten, Robin says she never told the school district that Brittany had been diagnosed as autistic.

Robin says she actually concealed Brittany's early diagnosis of autism from the school district, "I made sure they did not know. I didn't want anybody to treat her differently because she's not, she's not different."

Brittany says she knows other kids in her school who are autistic. She said, it's kind of scary, just because how people treat them."

Brittany TMs story is one of success about early intervention with autism. Not every child diagnosed with autism can recover from autism the way Brittany has, but it does demonstrate the importance of early intervention when it comes to this developmental disability.

The Centers for Disease Control figures an average of one in every 110 children has some form of autism spectrum disorders, and experts agree that the earlier they receive treatment, the better.

Robin TMs message for parents of autistic children is, "Work with your child, love them, listen to them."

Fifteen years after we first met her, Brittany looks forward to a life full of hope.

For more information on autism, visit the following sites:

Centers for Disease Control

CNY Chaper of the Autism Society of America

Families for Effective Autism Treatment of CNY

Arc of NY

Syracuse Autism

Arc of Oswego

CNY Autism Support Group