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Autism treatment gives Utah family hope

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A Utah family, using a sensory-enrichment therapy from Utah-based Mendability, said the program has given them hope to treat their son’s autism.

When you look at this 5-year-old, he plays like a typical kid, and for the most part his parents say he behaves like one too. His parents, Clay and Primrose Holland, said doctors diagnosed him with autism three years ago. And since that day, the Hollands haven’t stopped working to treat their son’s autism.


“What’s this called?” Primrose Holland asked her son as he squished clay between each finger as part of his 40-hour per week therapy. Primrose and Clay Holland have turned their basement into a make-shift classroom for their son for the past three years.

“I’ll do pictures of strawberries,” said Primrose Holland. “I will do any kind of scents where I can get the smell, you know an apple, an orange or banana.”


By targeting those sensory deprived areas in the brain, using sensory-enriched exercise, Mendability therapists said the treatment helps a child with autism process things quicker and focus a little faster.

“What I’ve seen is things just started clicking with him,” said Primrose Holland.And researchers are starting to pay attention to this type of treatment.

In a 2013 article published by the American Psychological Association, researchers at the University of California-Irvine tested 28 boys diagnosed with autism. Half of the boys used standard exercise, including behavior, speech and social skills therapies, while the rest of the group added the new sensory-enrichment therapy.

Researchers said after six months, parents of the boys using sensory enrichment exercises reported improvements in their child’s cognition. And 42 percent of that group reported improvement in the severity of their child’s autism symptoms.

“Now it’s (Mendability) opening his senses, opening his mind,” said Primrose Holland. “And he’s able to absorb things and he’s thinking on his own.”

The change in my son is welcomed improvement for Clay Holland.

“The way I put it, I declared war on autism,” he said. “And that we were going to do anything and everything possible to reach our goal of 100 percent recovery.”

For a father who has struggled for three years to connect with his son, Holland said that intense therapy has brought his boy a long way.

“He was repeating everything that he heard and it was completely non-functional,” he said. “He started spinning in circles, started walking on his tip toes, and there was no social interaction at all.”

Today, Holland said their family’s hard work has paid off.

“He’s been attending kindergarten in a neuro-typical class for the last month now since school started,” he said. “And it hasn’t been perfect, but we’re very, very pleased with the result.”

Those are results they said for a more promising future.

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