Helping those with autism

MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - Many of you in the past have told us that working with children can be rewarding.

That's exactly what we heard on Wednesday, from masters students who are working with children who have autism.

These students are not only making a difference in these childrens' lives, but they say help is needed.

"You change their environment instead of trying to change something in them," said Charlotte Arrington.

"I feel like it has affected me to be a little more understanding of everybody," said Devin Parsons.

They say they've even learned something themselves.

"Everybody with autism is different but everybody in the world is different, so I think that I've been more understanding to why people do a lot of the things that they do."

"It just has opened my eyes to the potential that these kids have," said Arrington. "If we change their environment to fit their needs."

They're been in a unique field -- one that they say could use some help.

"There's definitely a shortage of trained providers in West Virginia that families who have children with autism can seek out for services in our state," said Melina Danko with the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities.

These students started simply volunteering their time at the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities, and they were hooked.

"With the cases that I've worked with here and getting to know my clients, I've learned that every kid with autism is so different. I think it's something that people don't always understand. Every case is individualized."

It has even become a part of their family. The way they describe it -- the experience has been mutually beneficial.

"My brother started here before me, and I was an entirely different major," Parsons said. "I came here just on a visit and decided that I was going to work here. Every day we say we eat, sleep, and breathe these kids. We think about what they're doing constantly."