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Richmond, VA: CBS6 covers "PROFOUND AUTISM"

May 23, 2023, CBS6, Richmond, VA: What life is like for people living with profound autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impacts one and 36 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While some people living with ASD are very high-functioning, others with severe or profound autism may need assistance with most aspects of day-to-day life.

Ben Ratner, 22, was officially diagnosed with autism at age two. But his parents had a feeling before the doctor made the diagnosis.

"I noticed there were developmental delays very young. I knew there was a problem," Ben's mother Sarah Ratner said.

Living with a profound autism spectrum disorder, Ben is in need of assistance with almost all aspects of his life.

"We didn't know what to expect, but I can pretty surely tell you I didn't expect all of the ups and downs that we've had," Ben's father Todd Ratner said. "And there's been a lot of both, a lot of really wonderful times, some really tough ones. When he was young, the behaviors perhaps didn't seem as difficult because he's small."

The Ratners knew as their son grew, so would the scale of his aggression and destructive behavior.

His unpredictable behaviors mounted as he became school-aged.

"Police have had to come to the school bus because he was either hurting himself or another person," Sarah Ratner recalled.

The Ratners knew something had to change.

They found positive changes within the life skills program at the Faison Center.

The Richmond-based nonprofit provides services to people living with autism and their families.

"We have focused over the years on individuals with profound autism because they're the ones with the most need and the ones who needed the most customized individualized planning over time," Dr. Byron Wine, Chief Operating Officer at The Faison Center, said.

Jennifer Camblin has worked with Ben since he started at Faison in 2005.

"I've really seen Ben grow a lot," Camblin said. "His progress that he's made in terms of his coping strategies. And his ability to advocate for himself."

Father Todd Ratner credited Faison with providing his son the power to tell the world what he wants and needs.

"That's really been life-changing for us and for him," Todd Ratner said.

Complimenting the Faison Center's services is its family partner program.

Candice Hardy, a former Faison Center teacher, and her husband Delante have opened their hearts and home to Ben. And now Ben has two more brothers who you'll find attached to his side.

"Ben is just their friend. Ben is just their brother. Ben is just a part of their family. And they treat Ben with respect. Ben treats them with respect," Hardy said about their relationship. "You are like our prayers come true," Sarah Ratner told Hardy.

Ben Ratner graduated from the Faison School's program this month.


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