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Funding For Oklahoma Autism Program Cut

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

A statewide program for children with autism could soon be eliminated. Critical funding for the program has been cut. Now The Oklahoma Autism Center is scrambling to keep its doors open.

The center was founded eight years ago. The organization says it offers support and services that autistic children can't get anywhere else in the state.

"He started out, you know, everything was typical and then around 15 to 16 months, he stopped responding to his name and stopped making eye contact," said parent, Kayleigh Brosh.

Brosh says she knew right away something was wrong with her 2-year-old son, Isaac.

"I automatically knew when he stopped responding to his name," said Brosh.

She and her husband knew they had to get help fast.

"From 15 months to two and a half, I mean, that's a critical time and we're just waiting and doing what we could," said Brosh. "We weren't moving forward."

Early Foundations in Oklahoma City, part of the Oklahoma Autism Center was their son's savior. Within six months of entering the program, Isaac started to make tremendous improvements.

"He started making eye contact again," said Brosh. "He started responding to his name. He wanted us to play with him."

"I feel like we're changing the face of autism here, and we're making lives better for families," said program coordinator and teacher, Liz Moore.

Moore helped create the program. She says the thought of closing its doors is devastating.

"For me, this has been my life and my home for the last eight years," said Moore.

The program received $600,000 a year through the state department of education. But under the recent federal sequester, that money was eliminated.

"If we don't get funding, it will stop," said Bonnie McBride, associate professor in the pediatrics department at OU Health Sciences Center.

Kayleigh is afraid she will see her son regress.

"We're still young, and he's still at that time where he needs it," said Brosh. "And if they take it away, then we don't know what will happen."

The Oklahoma Autism center is holding fundraisers and asking for private donations. Organizers also urge supporters to contact legislators. The Oklahoma Autism Center also has sites in Norman, Tulsa, and Mustang. 

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