After Jacob Haskin started walking, his parents, Stephen and Alisa, noticed he did not walk as fast as his peers. When Jacob was 2 years old and still not speaking, Stephen and Alisa began searching for answers.
In May 2011, Jacob was officially diagnosed with autism. Autism is a group of complex disorders of brain development. Children with autism have a harder time than their peers with social interactions and verbal and nonverbal communication. Sometimes autism also affects their gastrointestinal and immune systems.
Researchers and families looking for new ways to reduce autism symptoms
After Jacob's diagnosis, Stephen and Alisa enrolled Jacob in an autism research study currently underway at Arkansas Children's Hospital. The study is led by Dr. Jill James, director of the autism metabolic genomics laboratory at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI).
The study provides specific vitamins and minerals to children with autism and measures how the treatment impacts their symptoms. Dr. James believes that certain vitamins and minerals will reduce the symptoms for children with autism.
Innovative autism research gains new partners
Dr. James' research has gotten the attention of leaders in the autism prevention and treatment field. In March, the New York-based Jane Botsford Johnson Foundation announced the donation of $1.2 million to Arkansas Children's Hospital, designated for autism research.
The donation will support Dr. Jill James as she explores three related studies. All three studies examine the biochemical abnormalities in children with autism.
The goal of the studies is to improve treatment options for children like Jacob.
"Jill James' work at ACHRI holds great promise for the future of autism therapy and prevention," says Jane Botsford Johnson. "Her research examines both heredity and environmental factors and is extremely innovative. I am thrilled to invest in this two-pronged approach to finding answers about the causes of autism and new treatments."
Stephen and Alisa notice changes after Jacob enrolls in the study
Jacob's parents are excited about the research, too.
"We have been participating in the study since February and we can already tell a difference in our son," says Stephen. "Since he started speech therapy a few years ago, he has struggled to meet even one or two of the goals the therapist set for him. Since his participation in the study began, he has met six goals already."