The story

Ryan Unumb just turned 7 years old. He has about 100 words in his vocabulary, even if they are difficult to understand. He's potty trained. He loves playing with water. He follows instructions, he asks for food when he's hungry, and he gives lots of kisses.

He's not where a 7-year-old should be developmentally, but for a child with severe autism, his parents are thrilled with his progress.

Lorri and Dan Unumb attribute these achievements to the 40 hours of intensive therapy Ryan gets every week. Tears streaming down her face, Lorri says they know they're lucky they can afford the team of private therapists who spend all day at their house outside Columbia, South Carolina.

"I've met so many other moms who were doing the best they could, and I just wanted to say to them, 'You know, an hour a week of speech therapy for your child is never going to make him better,' " the mother of three says.

"But I didn't want to tell them what they needed is 40 hours a week of therapy, because there's nothing they can do to buy that." Read full article »

Justine Redman is a CNN producer in Washington.

Unraveling the mystery
CNN reports on the impact and latest science concerning the developmental syndrome of autism in a global investigation.
All day Wednesday, April 2

Don't Miss

Health Library