A Stateline school that specializes in teaching kids with autism is now front and center in an effort to better diagnose and treat new cases. There’s a research initiative coming to Easter Seals to help get more data to learn more about autism. Rush Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment and Services (AARTS) Outreach Director Holly Lechniak says they’re looking to find ways for those who have autism and those affected by it to live a better and easier life.
“What were looking to do is simple it’s to advance what we know about autism,” said Lechniak.
The new study is looking to help identify, diagnose and treat people on the autism spectrum and has been active for two years.
“What we have learned has been out of a very small sample of individuals,” said Lechniak. “So the greater amount of people that participate, the more we will be able to learn about the genetic components of autism.”
Individuals will give saliva samples and send them off to be tested. Researchers hope the results can provide new ways to treat those who have special needs. Principal and mother to a son with autism, Jacque Ruch works at Easter Seals. The institution helps students learn and develop with autism. Ruch says learning more about autism can help families and those who diagnose and treat them as well.
“We really struggled 22 years ago, when Brennan was an infant,” said Ruch. “It was very difficult to find services and find educators that knew how best to serve him, how doctors knew best to serve him and dentists.”
Brennan Ruch, 23, wasn’t diagnosed until he was six years old, but with the proper treatment and learning, he’s come along way. Ruch works for Easterseals with students who were much like him.
“He really connects to the kids. He’s excited to come to work everyday,” said Jacque Ruch. “He’s battling cancer right now, and part of the biggest challenge for him is when he has to miss work. He says he wants to be there with the kids, they need me to be there, it’s important that I’m consistent.”
Brennan Ruch says he’s worked with doctors and researchers to help those who need it.
“Just being able to help them understand how other people feel about this and how people growing up with autism feel and act and respond to different various situations,” said Ruch. “It’s nice to know that I can help people in a way just from talking about past experiences.”
30,000 people have already participated in this study. Families can register here to attend the SPARK Study Collection Event on December 9, 2017 from 9:30a.m. to 1:30p.m. The event will be held at Easterseals in Machesney Park at 8301 Mitchell Road.
If there are individuals or families that can not attend the event, they can also register to have the testing equipment delivered to their home. Biological parents and siblings, who are under the age of 18, are eligible to participate.