Autism: A Tale Of Two Families | KCUR

Autism: A Tale Of Two Families

Jul 31, 2013

One of the problems of autism is that its origins are still fairly mysterious. But a more pressing, everyday concern for parents is how to pay for therapy for their children without going bankrupt.

The artwork of 10-year old Elijah Nessel who has autism.

On Thursday's Up to Date Steve Kraske talks with Jenny Whitty from Missouri and Jeff Nessel from Kansas about the similarities and differences in deciding how to assist their children with this neurological disorder. They discuss the factors that went into deciding which therapies to choose for their kids and the resulting impact on their lives.

Jeff and Jenny also discuss the challenges their families have faced and the progress their boys have made since being diagnosed. Joining the conversation are therapists Dan Matthews and Keenan Stump to share with us the positive impact therapy can provide to those with autism.

Autism Resources:

Autism Speaks - Autism Speaks is a leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

Missouri Office of Autism Services was established in 2008 to provide leadership in program development for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, to include establishment of program standards and coordination of program capacity.

Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART) at the University of Kansas, established in 2008, is a new multidisciplinary center that promotes research and training on the causes, nature and management of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  KU also is home to the Edna A. Hill Child Development Center (CDC) a distinguished early childhood program located on the University of Kansas campus and operated by the Department of Applied Behavioral Science. The Center is comprised of the Sunnyside Toddler and Educare Preschool programs and fulfills a mission of teacher training, research and service. It also provides a high quality, responsive learning environment for children from the surrounding community who have a diverse range of abilities and special needs.

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guide to Evidence-based Interventions is a collaboration of parents, healthcare providers, educators, and service providers  and was designed to help identify and treat individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) as quickly as possible.   Based on the principles of family-centered care, early identification, informed clinical judgment, and community collaboration, this publication is available at no charge at

Autism Works in Liberty, Missouri is a place where dedicated parents, volunteers and staff come together to bring support and services to families whose lives are affected by autism.  The organization works with families and the local community to increase autism awareness and develop support for families dealing with the everyday struggles of living on the spectrum. 

Autism Society - The Heartland is focused on the needs of individuals affected by the autism spectrum disorder and their families and is committed to providing current and accurate resources and information in order for them to advocate effectively.

Camp Encourage seeks to encourage social growth, independence, and self-esteem in youth with autism spectrum disorders through a quality, overnight camp experience located in the greater Kansas City area.  It is a pay-to-attend camp with priority given to KS/MO residents, attendees determined by lottery and with scholarship opportunities available.

Dan Matthews is the founder of Summit Behavioral Services and a certified and board-licensed Applied Behavior Analyst with over a decade of experience in supporting children and adults.  Dan's primary interest is in acute behavioral needs including the development of programming for people with severely aggressive, self-injurious, and dangerous behavior.

Keenan Stump is the founder of New Balloon Therapy Services.  He is a licensed speech-language pathologist with more than a decade of experience providing services to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and various developmental delays.  Stump also teaches courses about autism spectrum disorders to graduate students in the speech pathology programs at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri and provides training to families of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder through Children’s Mercy Hospital.