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Father's fight for son's autism care led to school, training center

Posted at 1:43 PM, Apr 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-03 18:07:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was years ago that one Kansas City father was struggling to find the right resources for his son who had been diagnosed with Autism. 

When Ron Johnson learned he was having a son, he couldn't wait to get him involved in sports. 

"I thought, oh my gosh, this is going to be so great. Here's the next Major League Baseball player, Ben Johnson," said Johnson, Executive Director of Kansas City Autism Training Center/Astra Day School. 

At the age of two, the plans Johnson had for the two of them, took a turn. 

"At about 30 months, all of the sudden he just lost all of his language, he couldn't sleep, he just all of the sudden went into sort of this little dark corner by himself," said Johnson. 

Johnson's son was diagnosed with Regressive Autism. Not knowing what that meant or what resources were available in the community, Johnson began researching. 

"Applied Behavior Analysis was the method of choice, but then it was sort of like, 'Where do we find this?'" said Johnson. 

Not finding the treatment that worked for his family, Johnson provided the proper therapy and schooling for Ben, right out of their home. 

"We ended up creating this home program and that's back then, it was sort of like country doctors because there weren't offices you could go to and have the treatment done," said Johnson.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 68 children will be diagnosed with autism. Wanting to help more families like his, Johnson began providing treatment for other children in the metro area. 

"I said, 'Gosh, it would really be great if at some point there was a center where families could take their child and be assured they're going to receive optimum treatment,'" said Johnson. 

Now, Johnson is helping nearly 40 children what's become the Kansas City Autism Training Center and Astra Day School. A facility specializing in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. 

"The treatment is basically a one to one treatment to make sure that it's intensive enough for each child and it's customized to the point where each child is able to learn," said Johnson. 

Johnson's son Ben is now almost 30 years old. He's hoping during the month of April, also known as Autism Awareness Month, that his story will inspire hope. 

"If there's a message out there, it's not a great thing for families to endure, but there is hope." 

KcATC/Astra Day School is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit.