Until recently, the Bilson household was under siege. Thirteen-year-old daughter Marissa, who has autism, ruled the roost, screaming shrilly until she got her way and enjoying special privileges that didn't extend to her siblings, Brittany, 15, and Brendan, 6.
The family couldn't go out in public because of Marissa's tantrums, and they couldn't take her into stores because she'd shoplift what she wanted, or just scream until she got it.
But that was before. Watch Marissa "before"
Today, the Bilsons' family life is a lot calmer and quieter. That's because Marissa and her parents, John and Mary, are following the rules that were made during a five-day intervention. The intervention was provided to them free by the group Autism Partnership, or AP. Usually this type of treatment costs about $20,000 a week, and it's not covered by insurance, but because CNN was allowed to videotape the entire process, AP waived the fee for the Bilsons.
The intensive, one-on-one, in-home therapy was meted out by behavioral therapist Rick Schroeder, who used a technique of behavior modification known as "applied behavior analysis" or ABA. ABA essentially breaks down behavior patterns in order to reward good behavior and not reward bad behavior. Essentially, it's all about laying down the rules and sticking to them in a way that Marissa can understand. Watch the therapist work with Marissa Read full article »
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