Beautiful Minds Center offers family services for autistic children

TARZANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Loi Vu, 40, and Tracy Trang Lee, 35, of Anaheim were arrested Tuesday night for allegedly keeping their 11-year-old boy with severe autism in a cage. They told investigators they were keeping their son inside the cage for his own protection and possibly to try to control his extreme behavior.

Now, experts in the field, like Dr. Margarita Izralson, want other families to know, there is a wide range of resources available to them.

"Families don't know what to do, they're scared, and it's actually really sad because there's a lot that can be done, both for the families and the kids," said Dr. Margarita Izralson, Clinical Director of the Beautiful Minds Center for Autism.

Beautiful Minds Center, located in Tarzana, is one of many resources, where behaviorists and doctors go out into homes, schools, and the community, and work on intensive behaviors, like safety, aggression, and temper tantrums.

Izralson and others teach alternative behaviors and coping mechanisms to families around Southern California in 10 different languages.

She says access to care has become much easier, and even families without insurance can make use of the tools available to them. She says, at times, some children with autism can be extra challenging for parents.

"Some of the kids we work with will also climb and grab, get in people's faces, will approach strangers, will do really dangerous things, and parents just don't know how to respond and react, and sometimes they're doing the opposite of what should be done because they are desperate and they're fearful, and they don't really have the knowledge or the specialization in knowing how to understand and manage the behavior," Izralson said.

But, she says, with the right therapy, intervention and training, it does get better.

"We need to really start at a young age, and get the kids comfortable with using their words to communicate, and get the parents informed and teach them how to handle a tantrum, how not to respond by reverting to locking them up or putting them away, because that's not the answer," Izralson said.

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