Thursday, March 18, 2010


Our family has done two documentaries, for the Discovery Health Channel, to help promote the awareness and acceptance of Autism. The second, Unlocking Autism, is to receive honors as told in the press release below. Our family is the third and last segment shown.



May 5th Ceremony to Spotlight Series
From ABC, CBS, Current TV, Discovery Health, FOX, HBO, and National Geographic

North Hollywood, CA, March 17, 2010 – The eight programs to be honored at the Third Annual Television Academy Honors were announced today by Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chairman and CEO John Shaffner. The evening will celebrate the power of television to change attitudes and lives – and specifically, eight programs that have had significant impact on the viewing audience. These programs concern vital issues ranging from capital punishment to racism, prescription drug abuse and trafficking, autism, the military escort for fallen service members, physician-assisted suicide and important disability issues.

The star-studded evening at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Wednesday, May 5th will recognize and pay tribute to the honored programs which were telecast in 2009 on ABC, CBS, Current TV, Discovery Health, FOX, HBO, and National Geographic and exemplify “television with a conscience.” Phil Gurin (The Singing Bee, Miss Universe Pageant) will produce the ceremony for the third consecutive year.

Recipients of the third annual Television Academy Honors are:

CSI “Coup De Grace”– One of America’s most popular dramas tackles the still important and challenging questions of race, profiling and assumptions about racial prejudice. “Coup De Grace” is an emotionally charged story of a veteran cop who kills another off-duty officer by accident and the infighting that ensues between the police and the local community as they work out the ugly details of the case. (Produced by CBS Productions in association with Jerry Bruckheimer Television)

GLEE “Wheels”– This dynamic episode weaves three main threads together to paint a portrait of how we treat others – and how we can do it better. In “Wheels,” Will (Matthew Morrison) encourages the Glee Club to support Artie (Kevin McHale), by asking each of them to spend a week in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel (Lea Michele) compete for a solo traditionally sung by a female performer, while cheerleading coach Sue (Jane Lynch) chooses a student (Lauren Potter) with Down syndrome to join the squad. (Produced by Ryan Murphy Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television)

“Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?” - This film tells five stories of children, ages 6-15, who are coping with grandfathers or grandmothers suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Maria Shriver provides commentary and delivers valuable lessons for the kids, urging them not to blame themselves for what their grandparents do or say. Maria's own father, Sergeant Shriver, suffers from the disease. The film offers up a variety of perspectives on how kids can handle a grandparent's loss of memory through kindness, patience and compassion. (Produced by HBO Documentary Films)
Explorer: “Inside Death Row” - “Inside Death Row” interviews three inmates in Huntsville, Texas, as their dates of execution draw near, and follows the stories of their families and loved ones as they deal with death firsthand. This story is not one of guilt or innocence; it is about how the State of Texas carries out the death penalty, as well as the men and women who, by choice or circumstance, become players in the act of executing another human being. Lastly, it explores how the residents of Huntsville feel towards living in a town that is ground zero for capital punishment in the United States. (Produced by Mannucci Inc. in association with National Geographic Television)

Private Practice “Nothing To Fear” – This thought-provoking episode tackles an issue that is often considered taboo: physician-assisted suicide. In “Nothing to Fear,” Sam (Taye Diggs) and Pete (Tim Daly) struggle with the moral, legal and ethical dilemma of Dr. Ball’s (Joel Grey) request to help him die. Their predicament brings all issues raised by physician-assisted suicide into focus, and the actors’ honest performances shed light on a topic that is often avoided. (Produced by ABC Studios)

Taking Chance – This non-political film about the war in Iraq tells a first-person account of a young Lieutenant Colonel (Kevin Bacon) and his journey accompanying a fallen solder’s remains to his family in Dubois, Wyoming. In the process and through a first-person account, the film gives insight into the military’s policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties of war. “Taking Chance” has changed U.S. public policy, allowing families to decide whether the dignified transfers of fallen service members’ remains at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, should be open to the news media. (Produced by the Motion Picture Corporation of America and Civil Dawn Pictures in association with HBO Films)

Unlocking Autism – “Unlocking Autism” explores autism from both a scientific and human perspective, showcasing leaders in the field who are slowly chipping away at the mystery of autism on many different fronts – from the potential causes to effective therapies. This documentary provides an intimate look at those personally affected by autism as they share their hopes and frustrations about coping with the disorder. (Produced for Discovery Health by Figure 8 Films)

Vanguard: “The OxyContin Express” – In the season premiere of “Vanguard,” correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to South Florida, the “Colombia of prescription drugs,” to expose a bustling pill pipeline that stretches from the beaches of Fort Lauderdale to the rolling hills of Appalachia. “The OxyContin Express” is an in-depth investigation of the growing, devastating effects of prescription drug abuse. (Produced by Current TV)

“This year, we were impressed by not only the number of entries received but also by the breadth of subject matters addressed,” says Shaffner. “We went to great lengths to select programs that reflect the mission of the Television Academy Honors committee - to highlight the power of television and its ability to initiate important dialogue and ultimately instigate change.”
Lynn Roth, co-chair of the Television Academy Honors committee, adds, “Television Academy Honors is a very special night where we have the rare opportunity to recognize programs that are using the power of television in a positive way. This year’s honorees have created moving and thought provoking television that not only entertains, but informs the audience of important social issues.”  

Television Academy Honors held its inaugural ceremony in 2008. Past honorees include:

A Home for the Holidays (10th Annual)
Brothers and Sisters
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Stand Up to Cancer
Whale Wars
30 Days
Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq
Boston Legal
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Eligible programs for this year’s Television Academy Honors aired from Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2009, and were submitted for fiction/nonfiction as a whole series, single episodes or story arcs up to three episodes. Made-for-television movies, miniseries and fiction/nonfiction specials were also eligible to apply for The Television Academy Honors. For complete details, please visit To purchase tickets, please email

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, founded in 1946 at the birth of the medium, is a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of telecommunication arts, sciences and creative leadership. Known for recognizing outstanding programming through its Primetime Emmy® Awards, the Television Academy also publishes emmy magazine. Its charitable Foundation operates the Archive of American Television, College Television Awards, acclaimed student internships and other educational outreach programs.  For more information on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, its many industry-related programs and services, including year-round events, please visit
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Contact: Chris Dilorio/Joanna Cichocki

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Autism x 6 - How It All Started

This is the story in our local newspaper that started us on the road to "fame".

Autism x 6: Family's kids all have the disorder
By Angie Welling
Deseret Morning News
Published: Sunday, June 3, 2007 12:21 a.m. MDT

MURRAY — One minute they're sitting, the next they're gone. Off the couch and onto the rocking chair, into the corner of the room, anywhere but where they were.

The children move quickly, often too fast for their parents — or even the camera's lens — to catch them.

This speed, this constant flash of children, is why the Kirton house looks like it does: a veritable maze of locked doors and makeshift barricades that are designed to keep kids in, or out, of certain areas. It is why the Kirton parents can keep talking through just about anything, hardly raising their voices while 8-year-old Nephi has yet another "meltdown" as 5-year-old Sarah, aka "Tigger," bounces madly on the couch beside them.

After all, if John and Robin Kirton focused too much on these incidents, who would catch 3-year-old Ammon, lovingly referred to as "The Destroyer," before his little hand finds its way into his dirty diaper? And where, during all of this, are the older children, Bobby and Emma, or the baby, Mary?

Life with six children is tough. Life with six children with autism practically defies description.

The stress has landed the family in juvenile court, following an offhand comment from a frustrated mother, and cost John Kirton his job and the family's medical insurance. But it has also helped the Kirtons — who now market their own "Autism Bites" T-shirts — recognize the healing power of laughter.

"We use sarcastic humor to diffuse our stress," Robin Kirton said with a smile. Added husband John: "If we didn't laugh, we'd cry."

Dubious distinction

In Utah, 1 in every 133 children has autism, according to a recent study that placed Utah's rate about 12 percent higher than the national average. University of Utah researchers found that the rate is even higher for boys, at 1 in 79.

Even with such high state rates, having six children from the same family on the autism spectrum is extremely rare, said Judith Pinborough Zimmerman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the U.

"What tends to happen is sometimes families, if they have one child with autism, they tend to stop having other children," she said. "Geneticists refer to it as stoppage."

Autism is characterized by impaired social, communicative and behavioral development. It is a spectrum disorder, with symptoms and characteristics ranging from mild to severe. Common characteristics include resistance to change, a difficulty expressing needs, tantrums, difficulty socializing with others, an obsessive attachment to objects, over- or under-sensitivity to pain and a preference for being alone. There is no medical cure for autism.

Autism cannot be detected by medical tests; diagnoses are based primarily on observation. Its causes are unknown, though research indicates that genetics can be a factor, while many believe that environmental factors and even childhood vaccines may be to blame.

The Kirtons note all of these factors when questioned about the cause of their children's autism. They also point to John's age as a possible factor, as he was over 40 when all of his children were born. (Bobby, the oldest boy, is Robin Kirton's son from her first marriage.)

The Kirton's own research, through Internet searches, online discussion groups and local autism conferences, has led the family to believe it may lead the nation in the number of children with autism. It's a dubious distinction to John and Robin Kirton, but they also see it as an opportunity to educate others about the disorder and, maybe one day, start their own nonprofit organization to raise money for other families with autistic children.

This week, researchers from the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, a joint project between the state health department and the U. medical school's department of psychiatry, will visit the family's home to draw blood from each family member as part of an ongoing study into the role of genetics in autism.

'Dangerous thoughts'

John and Robin Kirton bristle when asked the all-too-familiar question about their family: Why didn't they, as many parents do, stop having children?

Depending on their mood, the Kirtons respond with humor, frustration or defensiveness. Regardless, the answer remains the same — all of the Kirton children were already born when Bobby's fifth-grade teacher told John and Robin she suspected the boy suffered from Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.

According to the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, signs of autism-spectrum disorders are often the most obvious in 3 and 4 year olds, while more mild forms are often not diagnosed until later in childhood.

After observation tests confirmed Bobby, now 13, was a high-functioning autistic, the Kirtons began to become concerned about their other children. Sarah's diagnosis came next, then Ammon's.

"That's about when my grieving period started," John Kirton said.

The Kirtons sought early intervention services for the two children, each considered "classic autistic." Falling at the severe end of the spectrum, each child is still in diapers and has limited verbal skills. It was one of those early intervention workers, from a local nonprofit organization that contracts with the Utah Department of Health, to whom Robin Kirton made the comment last fall about the family's Murray home being so dirty that some days she was tempted to "burn the whole thing down and start over."

The remark was never meant seriously, said Robin Kirton. It was simply one of those "dark and dangerous and scary thoughts that crosses the minds of all parents but you don't do."

Still, within an hour, workers from the state Division of Child and Family Services were at the front door. One week later, all six children were at the Christmas Box House, where they lived for two weeks while their mother's mental state was evaluated.

"I feel like my character was, at first, so smeared," Robin said. "At the same time, I know they were doing their job. I've just had to prove myself and earn our freedom back.

"It really helped humble us. It made us appreciate the children more."

It also led to an official diagnosis for the other three Kirton children after the juvenile court judge ordered that they be tested for autism, as well. Last November, the news finally came: Emma, 9, and Nephi also have Asperger's syndrome and 2-year-old Mary has PDD-NOS, which stands for "pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified."

The news, Robin said, "was hard to take." However, the diagnoses also helped the family in certain ways, she said. "For one, it helped make sense of all the stress."

'Armageddon level'

The Kirtons will be back in court late next month for what they hope will be their final court hearing. "The thing with the thing," as John Kirton refers to the state intervention, is finally winding down.

The pair has made necessary changes to their home, and John Kirton has found work driving a truck for a local excavation company. The owner is sympathetic to the family's situation and the fact that John misses at least one day of work every couple of weeks to tend to his family — the reason he lost his previous job. And although John and Robin are without health insurance, three of the children receive Medicaid and the other three are on federal SSI (supplemental security income) through Social Security.

Meantime, the couple, who celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary in late May, will continue to cope with their situation in their own ways. John blogs on their Web site about his family and rents World War II movies because, "even though I know how it ends, I like to see the fighting and how they got there." Robin, on the other hand, steals whatever free time she can to play her favorite computer game, Snood.

Recently, while reaching the highest level in the puzzle game, Robin reached an important conclusion about her life.

"I realized that the lower levels aren't fun now, because I'm good at it," Robin Kirton said. "If I had, say, six normal kids or less kids that were normal, that would be easy for me. God knew I was up for the challenge, so he made it.

"Six autistic kids is my Armageddon level."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sorry for Being Gone

Well, I'd imagine that we've lost just about every follower that we had for this blog by now. But, I quess that it will give me a place where I can write and not worry too much about what I say.

The car contest was a BIG flop. So much for 6 weeks of work to create the video. Some people were very helpful watching it a bunch, but that was about it... a few people. Got a lesson in knowing how many people were able to help us, I thought I was more known about or something. Boo Hoo...LOL!

I and Robin have been hanging out a LOT more on Facebook the past month. I've also been doing a lot of Twittering and on the business site: LinkedIn.

I've decided that I will leave this blog just for family stuff only, and of course when I can get to it. I've been very busy launching my business expansion. Here are some links to find the other places I hang out. Be my friend there if you like.



Monday, December 14, 2009

Autism x 6 Dad Working to Win a Smart Car

A few months back I became a distributor for MonaVie.

My website

Company Awards received: Inc 500 #1 Inc 500 #14 Inc 500 #31
MonaVie takes top honors for Utah growth

I discovered that they had a contest running each month until the end of December. The Grand Prize? A Smart car with a pretty cool paint job.

After six weeks of working on this YouTube entry (click here to watch) my video is: E and the MonaVie Girls. The person who gets the most views each month has the chance to go for the car in January. When I get the most views then, the car is mine!

But I need everyone and their friends, on FaceBook, MySpace, blogs, groups, etc. to tell ALL their friends and their friends, etc. to pull this off. I'd appreciate your help. Thanks!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Autism x 6 Benefit Concert to feature Lady GaGa and David Archuleta...?

An amazing thing happened to us yesterday. Robin got a phone call from Todd of EATON Alliance. They are an organization that helps people with Autism adjust to life. It seems that we missed a past email in our email box that he had sent. (like we don't do that very often, LOL) Check their site for additional details.

Anyway, Todd said that they want to do a benefit concert in Provo, Utah on or about the 17th of December. The musicians are still yet to be determined but a quick poll from the family came up with a short list of who we'd like to see:

Lady GaGa - Her songs that are favorites with the kids is "Paparazzi" and "Pokerface". She obviously is NOT an unrevealing or conservative dresser-- and not to start any rumors but, with her musical genius and very creative outfits I've been wondering if she may be an undiagnosed Aspergers. And I hope that if this blog is somehow read by Lady GaGa I do not intend ANY disrespect. Our Aspergers children are very talented and we love them and their creativeness. Will she be there? That would be sooooooo awesome!!!

David Archuleta - The whole family watched American Idol that season and voted for David from the beginning. Of course part of our hopes for David to win is because we know him. It's been mentioned he is from Murray, Utah (the same city we live in) and that he is a Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), we are too. But he also lives just a few blocks from our house. Bobby goes to Boy Scouts and knows David's younger brother. And in the past month I've seen him at church twice. Will he be there? That would be sooooooo awesome!!!

Jerico Road - Robin has enjoyed their music for years and is hoping to have their music on the soundtrack of the movie script she is writing. She and Bobby went to a concert of theirs last year. Will they be in Provo that night? I think they live there. We hope they can be a part of the concert. That would be sooooooo awesome!!!

We are honored and humbled by EATON Alliance's wanting to have this concert to raise Autism awareness and as a benefit for us. Truly honored.

If you live near by or not, and would like to be there, check with Todd for additional details. They also plan to have tables available for people or organizations that work with people with Autism to set out their information.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Chicago Tribune Takes on Alternative Autism Treatments

Below is the blog post of Lisa Jo Rudy of Guide to Autism. To use the links in the story go to her original post here. At the end of the article you will see how I feel about it.

"This week, the Chicago Tribune came out with a long piece entitled Autism treatment: Science hijacked to support alternative therapies and subtitled Researchers' fears about misuse of their work come true. In essence, the article is a condemnation of the Defeat Autism Now or DAN protocol and other biomedical treatments for autism. Among the article's statements:

Most physicians recommend intensive behavioral therapy and, if asked, warn parents away from experimental treatments.

Even so, studies have found that up to three-quarters of families with children who have autism try at least some alternative therapies.

Physicians and others in the movement -- many affiliated with the organization Defeat Autism Now! -- say their treatment protocols rest on a foundation of solid science. But the Tribune found otherwise after speaking with dozens of scientists and physicians and reviewing thousands of pages of research and court testimony.

Later this week, another article came out entitled Autism treatment: Success stories more persuasive to some than hard data. The gist of the second article: kids with autism may improve with or without therapies, so it can be very hard to know what's "really" working.

As might be anticipated, the articles have raised a storm of protest -- and an equally hefty shower of approval. Two regular commenters, Harold Doherty and Autism News Beat, take opposite perspectives. Harold is disturbed by what he feels is an anti-therapy stance by the Tribune, while Autism News Beat says "It's called journalism..... Get used to it. Expect more in the coming months as the news and entertainment media's narrative switches from "alternative medicine produces miracles" to "science is being highjacked to fool parents". Age of Autism, some of whose writers are specifically presented in a negative light in the Tribune articles, are predictably vocal in their criticism.

Whatever happens next, it seems clear that the autism wars are nowhere near over. In the present battle, the Chicago Tribune has made its point of view very clear indeed. It will be interesting to see whether Autism News Beat is right that the "narrative is changing."

My guess is that consensus is a very, very long way away."

My comments:

The fights and arguments will continue to go on and on and on... until someone does a COMPLETE study of all that is out there without bias.

Is that someone the government who is joined at the hip with the AMA, FDA, the big drug companies and more? Or will it be Autism Speaks funded by well meaning parents and concerned others?

Either way those two DO have biased agendas. And that leaves parents and their children on the sidelines still waiting for the shining knight to come riding over the hill with help. I don't think it'll happen.

I think we (Autism parents) are going to have to do it on our own if we can expect to see any real results. But how to afford it? That's the 64 million dollar question.

I hope that we can joined forces to create the wealth needed to say to hell with the government and the promises of hope from others that will never be fulfilled to make a difference for our children today.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beating Up Autistic Kids

I just read a story from Texas where teachers are hurting children with special needs in the name of discipline.

On the Facebook forum I answered questions from a concerned parent: I do not have an autistic child but ... My children attend a school that does have autistic and other special needs students. What is the best way to handle a situation where a student with special needs does harm someone else or does bully or spit on someone? I know it happens but do not know what parents of special needs children think is proper procedure. If my son spit on someone or bullied someone or hit someone they would be disciplined and possibly suspended and I am wondering what is acceptable punishment for special needs students. I am sorry if this upsets anyone but I really want to know?

I said: "I have my methods that work very well, however I will probably upset some 'gentler' folks. I use what has been termed in the past as 'tough love'. Bottom line I don't let them get away with anything. It probably helped that I had 4 NT children in a first marriage. I treat our 6 ASD pumpkins like I would an NT child and do not let them get away with bad behavior because they are 'disabled'.

At our school they use a two hand to one arm hold on a child to guide them away from a situation and to a classroom set aside for children having problems. An aide or teacher is there to help direct their emotions away from things harmful or disruptive.

For a school to allow a child to be physically harmed in the name of discipline is criminal and arrests and jail time need to be given. If a parent did the same thing it's abuse and the state steps in. School districts and teacher must be held to the same standard. If I can help in any additional ways please let me know. That goes for anyone else reading this too."

What do you think?