Monday, August 25, 1997

Name: Lee Grossman
Age: 41
Education: Hawaii Pacific University
Occupation: Medical equipment distributor
Hobbies: Weightlifting, reading

Educating about autism

Many people think autism dooms children to a life of dependency.

But Lee Grossman seeks a brighter future for autistic children, like his 10-year-old son, Vance.

Grossman was recently elected vice president of the Autism Society of America, the largest national autism organization in the world. Representing the more than 400,000 people with autism and their families in the United States, Grossman will be involved in lobbying for disability legislation, securing research funds and developing a national awareness campaign.

Autism is a sensory disorder that sometimes causes children to become detached from society.

But Grossman said that with early intervention and proper treatment, many autistic people are starting to live functional, independent lives.

"Many more parents are understanding that there is something they can do for their child," said Grossman. "Whereas five to six years ago, professionals were telling them that there was nothing they could do but put them in an institution and walk away."

As a member of the society's board of directors, Grossman testified at a U.S. Senate hearing in March to ensure educational services for autistic children.

The key, he said, is developing more trained professionals who know how to deal with autistic children, who often are improperly treated as mentally retarded.

Grossman said strides are also being made in the form of a National Institute of Health research project that is aiming to find the cause of autism within five years.

"We're trying to bring the awareness up and get the research done so we can get the treatment for our kids and they can have the opportunities that anyone else can have," he said.

He hopes his son Vance will grow up to attend college, choose a profession and have a family.

"I want what any parent would hope for their child," Grossman said.

By Neal Iwamoto, Star-Bulletin

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