Local "Angel" Fights Autism

January 17, 2007
Reported by Theresa Schmidt

Twenty-five years ago, one in 10,000 people had autism.  Today, diagnosis is one in 166 -- an epidemic to some.  One local woman is an "Angel Award Winner" for her efforts help those with autism.

Twenty-five year old Adam Duhon loves to repeat things he hears.  Adam has autism and communicates in ways different from most.  "Wednesday, no library?," asks Adam.   Mom, Karen, confirms,  "Wednesday, no library."  He requires much structure. "Thursday is library with Joshua," says his mom.

Adam was diagnosed with autism around age five.  Helping Adam has been a life-long challenge for Karen Duhon and her husband.  "We were told Adam would never make it in society, that he would destroy our life as a family and that the best thing we could do at that time was to place him in an institution.  And what that did to me was it made me very angry."  Nearly each step along the way, Karen found herself having to fight to meet Adam's needs from education to quality of life issues.

Her work for her son brought about benefits for others with autism -- such as Hopen summer camp.  "Adam was never accepted into summer camp and we fought and fought and they just would not take him with autism so we started a summer camp called Camp Hopen," says Karen.  She has found as children with autism become adults, they face even more difficulties. "Once they leave the school system there's no mandate or law."

Kren has received a Blue Cross Angel Award which means she'll be able to donate thousands of dollars to help with housing for adults with autism.  She knows with, faith, hope and persistence progress comes.  "Adam has come such a long way.  He's happy.  He is happy.  And that's, that's what life is about."

For more information on autism click here.  Karen Duhon is currently the presidents of the Louisiana State Autism Chapter which can be reached at 800-955-3760.  Locally Karen is affiliated with Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana, 337-480-0851 and Direct Care, Inc. 474-7090 or toll free 1-866-603-2273.  Direct Care is an agency dedicated to providing personal care services for persons of all ages with disabilities that fall within the autism spectrum.  Karen's Blue Cross Blue Shield Angel award is providing her with $20,000 for the charity of her choice.  She is donating $10,000 to Autism Services of Southwest Louisiana, $9,000 to Direct Care and $1000 to the state chapter.