A little more than a year after forming the Autism Society of the Keys (A.S.K.), organizers Craig and Jill Campbell are excitedly gearing up for their annual awareness meeting on Monday, April 26 at 6 pm at Key Largo Baptist Church (MM 106).

Last April, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, The Weekly Newspapers ran a feature sharing their son Craigee’s journey from his initial diagnosis to his costly medical treatments to the beginning of his recovery.

At only two and a half years old, Craigee was diagnosed the autism, but his parents’ determination to help their son lead a normal and healthy life has proven worthwhile. After three years of biomedical treatments, therapy, a strict diet and countless hours of research and financial commitment, five-year-old Craigee recently graduated from kindergarten at Key Largo School.

“What families with autistic children need to see is a story like this so they can know that recovery is possible,” Jill said emphatically. “There is hope!”

Whereas Jill or Craig previously spent four hours each day driving their son to Kendall for two hours of one-on-one behavioral therapy, Craigee’s therapist now travels to Key Largo five days a week for treatment right after school.

“He’s reading, he’s doing math,” she exclaimed, adding that shortly after beginning kindergarten, her son’s ‘shadow’, or personal teacher aide, was deemed unnecessary. “He is about 80 percent recovered.”

Craig and Jill are focused on their son’s recovery as well as educating themselves with the ongoing research into the controversial condition.

“Just as every child is different, every case of autism is different,” Craig said. “One hundred percent recovery may not always be possible, but at least we can help make our children more comfortable.”

Craigee’s general pediatrician, Dr. Kristi Bagnell of Islamorada, will be one of the main presenters at Monday’s meeting. The Campbells admit they’re thankful Bagnell has returned to the Keys after a brief period away.

“She’s an open-minded pediatrician, which is a rare thing in itself,” Craig admitted. “She really takes the time to listen to patients’ needs and discuss family history.”

Bagnell has immersed herself into the research about environmental factors that can trigger autism as well as the biomedical treatments that can encourage recovery. Though Craigee still sees Dr. Dan Rosignoll – widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on the treatment of autistic children with hyperbaric therapy and father to two autistic children – in Melbourne, she’s amazed at his progress since he became one of her patients.

“In just the short time I’ve known him, it’s just incredible how much he’s developed things like his motor skills and his ability for eye contact has improved tremendously,” Dr. Bagnell said. “He’s made huge strides.”

Autism has finally come to the forefront of leading research studies, she continued, and organizations like the National Institute for Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Harvard University are enrolling patients to research the impact of environmental factors.

“Medical research is really starting to hone in on autism, what causes it and what treatments exist,” Dr. Bagnell continued.

Her presentation during A.S.K.’s annual awareness meeting will include a discussion on biomedical treatments like supplementing your child’s diet with plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics and vitamins B6 and B12.

The conclusion of her presentation will include 10 healthy tips for your children.

“A lot of these treatments are things healthy people are already incorporating, so I’m not sure why some consider these biomedical treatments such a radical notion,” Dr. Bagnell added.

Monday’s meeting will also include a presentation from ABA Therapist Krystine Cardenas as well as information from the Campbells on getting educated, recognizing red flags, what to do with a diagnosis, what therapies and biomedical interventions are available and an update on current events.

For more information about the meeting, call Craig or Jill at (305) 942-5172 or visit www.autismsocietyofthekeys.com.

Craig Campbell, 5, was diagnosed with autism two and half years ago. Now well on his way to recovery, he recently graduated from Kindergarten at Key Largo School. His photo is at the top of this webpage.

During a recent beach vacation with his family to South Carolina, Craigee Campbell proudly showed off his beautiful smile for the camera.




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