By Mary Simms
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's a disorder with no cure. But, with treatment and education, one Hawaii group is working to help children living with autism lead normal lives.
Laura Cook's son was diagnosed with severe autism 8 years ago. His doctors said he would have to be institutionalized, and would never lead a "normal" life, but Laura wouldn't accept that. She's worked hard to help him make a full recovery, and now she's helping others.
At the Pacific Autism Center, there's a unique approach to autism.
"A lot of times when people think about autism they don't know that its possible for children to recover. Now, that doesn't mean that we believe its curable. We believe the symptoms can be overcome to a degree," said Pacific Autism Center President, Laura Cook.
The center uses applied behavioral analysis -- the treatment they believe best helps recover autistic children.
Cook founded the center three years ago, after walking her own son down the road to recovery.
"Recovery is possible, and there is research that proves that recovery is possible," said Cook. We were able to help my son Zachary make substantial progress to the point where he is indistinguishable."
Now, Laura helps others facing autism -- like Lori Eller, who's 2-year old was recently diagnosed.
"He went from maybe 5 words, to now he has a hundred words," said Eller.
Laura Cook's 12-year old son Zachary has been what therapists call "main-streamed," something his mother has worked hard for.
"We went as far as we could, as aggressively as we could. We were very fortunate -- nothing was handed to us, and it was a very difficult process. Now, he'll be able to go to college, he'll be able to get married, he'll be able to reach whatever goals he wants to in his life."