TODAY   |  May 09, 2011

Autistic third-grader blossoms in classroom

TODAY’s Natalie Morales revisits 8-year-old Keiran, who is thriving in a mainstream classroom despite being diagnosed with autism.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> in our class of 2020 series, we are following a group of students from their first day in kindergarten to their high school graduation. when we first met kyran in kinderer g kindergarten his parents were struggling with a diagnosis. now he's proving children with autism can excel in school and in life.

>> the mayor is -- what?

>> a leader of a town or a city.

>> you got it.

>> reporter: kyran is never shy to answer a question from the teacher, whether the subject is politics or proper nouns, the 3rd grader is ready to respond. he's come a long way since being diagnosed with autism four years ago.

>> big feet. here come pig feet.

>> reporter: in kindergarten he was already reading above grade level but had a hard time staying focussed in the classroom.

>> i give up now.

>> reporter: sometimes he expressed his frustrations verbally. and sometimes he got physical, punching and biting when he was upset. kyran's mom knew he was smart enough to be in a main stream classroom but worried behavioral issues from autism would hold him back.

>> in my mind i thought my child was going to live with me the rest of my life. like he was never going to be like other kids. okay, let's do two squirts of this.

>> reporter: his parents took a proactive approach to combat some of the systems.

>> tmg powder, endotrex.

>> reporter: they added 30 vitamins and supplements to the daily regimen and subtracted key ingredients like sugar and gluten from the diet.

>> mm, very good.

>> reporter: then they sent him to weekly physical and occupational therapy sessions and started seeing results almost immediately.

>> i think we just nailed it early on. erp able to get him the services he needed.

>> reporter: today, kyran is just like any other 3rd grader, enjoying recess and chasing girls. you have a crush on somebody?

>> basically every girl in the class.

>> oh, my gosh. does your mom know?

>> yes. he loves the ladies.

>> is that true, false or an inference?

>> true. definitely true.

>> reporter: in class he's ready to take on any subject. remember when you told me you loved reading the dictionary?

>> now i don't. because i know every word.

>> reporter: you know every word in the dictionary?

>> yes.

>> reporter: i will have to quiz you on that.

>> he has a lot of confidence in the classroom.

>> reporter: he's very smart.

>> he's articulate and likes to share his cleverness with us all.

>> okay. pause.

>> pause. there are two kinds of pause. one is for animals and one is if you want to pause --

>> the pause for tv or the camera.

>> reporter: kyran's mom says his progress is proof that autism doesn't have to be the end of a parent's dream of a good education for their child. it can be the beginning of a journey that takes them farther than they have ever imagined.

>> he's been a big gift to me. he's brought a lot of light into my life.

>> reporter: what do you want to be when you grow up?

>> an inventor.

>> reporter: what do you think we need to invent in the world?

>> i know. an ice pack that you don't have to cool in the fridge.

>> reporter: you know, they have those already.

>> that sucks.

>> he's such a pistol. follow the class of 2020's stories at our web page dedicated to the series at today.com.