Updated: 09/28/2013 4:26 PM
Created: 09/27/2013 8:23 PM KSTP.com
By: Stephen Tellier
A Wisconsin doctor used surgery to help a teen with autism. The procedure may be raising eyebrows, but it's also highlighting the struggles for families with autistic children.
The CDC says one in 88 kids has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. The range of symptoms vary widely in type and severity. And with the range of symptoms comes a range of treatments and therapies.
An autistic teen in Wisconsin, Kade Hanegraaf, 16, developed an involuntary screaming tic. He emitted a deafening scream every five seconds of every day for more than three years. But two years ago, one surgery changed his life -- and his family's lives.
"He was tormented, and now after this procedure, he's got a new life," said Vicki Hanegraaf, Kade's mother. "As far as any screaming is involved, it's not there. It does not hold us back at all, so we can now have our lives back together."
A doctor in Madison was able to separate the cartilage in his vocal cords -- a procedure which is reversible, and prevented him from screaming loudly. His mother said her son is a changed boy -- happier and more in control of his life.
The case is just one example of the difficulties faced by families dealing with autism.
Cindy Nollette, a psychologist who specializes in child autism, says such symptoms are extremely rare. Still, one family's success story can inspire many others.
"It does trigger a sense of hope. It triggers a sense of inquiry, a sense of wonderment, and what it does, it propels the rest of us in the educational, the psycho-educational and the medical field to keep looking," Nollette said.
Nollette also cautions there is a difference between hope and false hope. For most children with autism, there is no quick fix surgery solution. Most cases require years of support and therapy.