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Daycare issue sheds light on autism care

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Jacob Anderson Jacob Anderson
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Sheryl Anderson, a mother to twin boys, Jacob and Joseph, struggles regularly with one of her son's disabilities, autism.

"It’s like a Cracker Jack box," she said. "You never know what you're going to get.”

Anderson recently enrolled Jacob at the Learning Ranch after-school program. Wednesday night, they notified her that they could no longer serve her family.

"I felt really bad. I felt really sad." Anderson said.

The Learning Ranch says when they first started to watch over Jacob, the company and Ms. Anderson agreed to a trial, if things worked out, they would keep him; if not, they would have to let him go.

"Yesterday (Wednesday) we made the decision we weren't able to meet that child's needs because of the safety of staff and the children and his safety as well." Donata Smith, Learning Ranch Assistant Director said.  

Anderson turned to 9 On Your Side. She wanted to know what her rights. The American Disabilities Act says, "You may not deny care to a child simply because the child has a disability, but you may assess

The child's needs and balance them against the size of your program's budget, staff and other resources."

"Yes there is some frustration." Dr. Wendy Gray-Hundell, a past Pitt County Administrator and autism researcher says finding quality autistic care is difficult to find. She says centers must do a lot to provide for the children.

"In their defense, it can be very tough. And it's not just having that child development degree; it's also having those specialized workers that understand those children's needs," Gray-Hundell said.

But none-the less Dr. Gray-Hundell says there's a need and the community must fill that void.

"It’s frustrating to not be able to give them the resources and the answers when the passion is there for some of the centers to want to provide the care but the safety of the children, the safety of the employees is important."

Both the mother and the center want to raise awareness about the deficiency in autism care. The Learning Ranch stresses they don't turn their backs on any kids, they try to help them first. 

As far as Anderson is concerned, we've put her in contact with an organization that can help.
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