View Full Version : Filling a growing need


jace49
11-17-11, 10:09 AM
Parents frustrated by a lack of area resources for their son with ADHD now run a nonprofit to help similar families

Ben Gebauer, 9, balances on a board while playing catch with another student Tuesday in an exercise designed to help their focus at Mind Matters, a nonprofit organization that works with children who have behavioral disorders such as autism.CALIXTRO ROMIAS/The Record

By Dana M. Nichols
Record Staff Writer
November 17, 2011 12:00 AM
MURPHYS - The Gold Rush village of Murphys has become a major outpost in the struggle to help families coping with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral woes.
The 4-year-old Mind Matters clinic here has already served 600 clients. With virtually no marketing campaign, its reputation has spread primarily by word of mouth and it draws families from as far away as Stockton and Modesto.
The clinic is here because Dr. Ryan Thompson, a family practitioner, and his wife, Kim Thompson, 20 years ago had a son. That boy, Mitch, was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. But Ryan Thompson said it took many years after that diagnosis to find the help his family needed in coping with everything from disruptive behaviors to school studies to social skills.
"It was a lot of work because there was no place to go locally for kids like this," Thompson said.
They went as far as Chicago in search of help.
Kim Thompson went back to school and got training in how to teach social skills to children with autism. She got a certificate in helping children with learning disabilities including dyslexia.
They kept learning more, discovering that children with behavioral disorders often have multiple problems, such as learning disabilities, that are overlooked.
Meanwhile, more and more families with children suffering from behavioral issues were coming to Thompson's family medical practice. He is not a psychiatrist and says he didn't seek to specialize in child behavioral matters. He kept hoping someone else would open a clinic offering a wide array of behavioral services for children.
But in the face of growing demand, he eventually teamed up with other professionals in counseling and psychology and opened Mind Matters in 2007 in a space next to his medical office.
New clients keep coming. Gloria Miller, the business director for Mind Matters, says Thompson is booked six weeks out for the hour-long initial assessment families undergo.
The background is now familiar. For a variety of reasons that medical experts can't yet fully explain, growing numbers of children across the United States are being diagnosed with autism and other disorders that can make family life difficult for children and adults alike.
Valley Mountain Regional Center in Stockton, a state-funded agency that serves people with developmental disabilities in a five-county region, saw a 1,600-percent increase from 1992 to 2007 in the number of clients diagnosed with autism, according to state figures. The overall client load only increased 90 percent in that 15-year period.
Traditionally, it has been at research university-based facilities such as the UC Davis Mind Institute that parents would expect to get help for poorly understood or newly emerging behavioral issues.

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