Clinic helps kids with social disorders

September 17, 2008 7:28:28 PM PDT
A new specialized clinic in San Jose has opened to provide support to kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and their parents.

Joe Bellatoni, 10, has Asperger Syndrome - which typically means someone who has difficulty interacting socially with others.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders who function at a high level can be socially clumsy, as can children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Therapist Michelle Garcia Winner works with these children.

"Normally developing children understand other people have thoughts different from them, at the latest by four-years-old, and it often happens before that," she said.

But for children who do not develop that understanding, Teach Social Silicon Valley, a new clinic in San Jose, is helping children with social disabilities improve their lives.

"As a family we've learned what makes Joe's brain tick and how he perceives things and Joe learned how the rest of the world perceives things," Joe's mother Karen Bellatoni said.

By doing so, Joe is learning how to function adequately in social settings.

Early intervention is crucial.

"As they get older there is an incidence of higher rates of depression, higher rates of mental health disorders, it's impacting them as they get old," clinic director Amy Miller said.

The program is making a difference in Joe's life, Bellatoni said.


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