By Caleb Lunetta
Signal Staff Writer
In her book and on her website, autism-and-treatment.com, Marcia Hinds and her 30-year-old son Ryan Hinds have openly talked about how he has “recovered” from his autism.
While completing their undergraduate studies at UCLA, Marcia and Frank Hinds participated in a program that attempted to help autistic children.
However, even experience and a background in behavioral studies didn’t stop Marcia from slipping into denial while Ryan was growing up, she said.
“The issue was always trying to find the right doctor that could help,” said Marcia. “He would do things that would worry us, but doctor’s kept saying that it was something behavioral.”
At the age of 4, Ryan was diagnosed with autism by an expert in Minneapolis — where the family lived at the time, and his parents were advised to institutionalize him.
“I was told that he needed to be institutionalized, and that he would never get better,” said Marcia.
“Basically, they told me, ‘Go home, love your kid and make him the best autistic little boy he can be.’”
Deciding to ignore the Minnesota doctor’s advice, Ryan’s parents decided to keep searching for different options, scheduling appointments with doctor after doctor. It was not until they read about the story in an autism newsletter about a doctor in Simi Valley that the couple then decided to move back to Southern California.
“We took an approach that was medical, educational and behavioral,” said Marcia. “One of the things we realized was that autism causes issues for his immune system.”
Marcia went on to say that they put Ryan on a low-sugar, no-dairy diet in order to help his digestive and immune systems.
“Once, we got him standing up on two feet in terms of his immune system, he started doing a lot better,” said Marcia.
In addition to putting Ryan on a strict diet, they also had enrolled him in a number of behavioral and educational programs.
“He still took his medication, because someone, say, with diabetes needs insulin,” said Marcia. “But we didn’t agree with the doctors that just said it’s a developmental disorder.”
Now, more than 20-years-later, Ryan is now an aerospace engineer, an avid surfer and has traveled across the globe.
And while successes in his life may lead some of those around him to believe that he was “cured” from his autism, Ryan has said that he has only “recovered” with treatment.
“This is not a simple fix,” said Marcia. “But we say now that Ryan has ‘recovered’ from his autism because he no longer has any of the traits a person with autism has.”
Ryan’s story is made up of a series of options chosen by his parents; options driven by information accessible to not only Hinds, but also to parents throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
For instance, the North Los Angeles County Regional Center Santa Clarita Valley offers informational meetings, access to resources and support groups for families with an autistic child.
“We would not promote, or say ‘no’ to, certain types of things, such as a strict diet,” said Kathleen Secchi, coordinator for the Family Focus Resource Center in Santa Clarita. “What we do is provide information on a number of things that can contribute to growth and success.”
Officials at the Family Resource Center have said that they can help parents navigate programs that are both “early start” — for children age 3 or younger — or services for older children and young adults that are 3 to 22 years of age.
“When it comes to autism, the earlier the better” said Secchi. “If they can get those services before kindergarten, that’s a big thing.”
Secchi said that there are also a number of community partners and school districts with special education programs that the Family Resource Center works alongside with.
“There’s not one simple answer, but there’s a lot of resources available,” said Secchi.
For more information on the Hinds’ story and to purchase the book, visit autism-and-treatment.com.
For more information about the Family Resource Center visit their website at www.nlacrc.org.