What I Wish I Had Known About Getting an Autism Diagnosis – ‘GAME ON’ Not ‘Game Over’

s any parent who has been given a health diagnosis for their child knows, it’s a punch to the gut. Shazi opens up about the day her son, Zane, was given his autism diagnosis and was told he may never speak. You’ll hear a candid conversation with her mentor, Lisa Ackerman, Founder of TACA (The Autism Community in Action); Lisa shares the story of her son and why it propelled her to provide education, support, and hope to other families living with autism. We then hear from developmental pediatrician Dr. Stephen Cowan — the doctor who first gave Shazi’s son his diagnosis — on the steps parents can take to move forward and why the future holds so much hope for children with special needs.

Dr. Stephen Cowan

Stephen Cowan, MD, FAAP specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic and recurrent pediatric problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Tourette's syndrome, Asthma and Allergies, Digestive Disorders and other inflammatory disorders.

Dr. Cowan completed his pediatric training at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in NY in 1987 and went on to complete a 2 year fellowship in Child Development at the Developmental Disabilities Center at Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is board-certified in Pediatrics, a long-standing fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics and serves on the AAP committee of Developmental Disabilities. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family/Community Medicine at NY Medical College and has lectured internationally on the holistic management of chronic problems in children. He is certified in Medical Acupuncture and is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.

Dr. Cowan is a long time student of Chinese medicine, studying with Efrem Korngold OMD and Stephen Aung MD. He has been a member of the Autism Research Institute's Defeat Autism Now organization. Dr. Cowan is a co-founder and advisory board member of the Holistic Pediatric Association, and serves on the advisory boards of the Integrative Healthcare Symposium, TCM World Foundation, Holistic Pediatric Alliance, and Epidemic Answers. He is co-founder and medical director of the non-profit organization Tournesol Kids, which empowers children through online education, workshops, and community outreach.

Dr. Cowan is the author of Fire Child, Water Child: How understanding the Five Types of ADHD Can Help You Improve Your Child’s Self-Esteem and Attention.

In 1991 Dr. Cowan co-founded Riverside Pediatrics, in Croton, NY where for over 20 years he incorporated alternative therapies in the treatment of common childhood disorders. Seeking to expand his developmental practice, Dr. Cowan founded The Westchester Center for Holistic Families in Mt. Kisco, NY, where he now offers holistic pediatric and developmental consultations and treatments. Dr. Cowan sees patients at Tournseol Wellness in Manhattan. His consultations are designed to offer time with each patient and their family, offering nutritional and biomedical interventions, acupuncture, biofeedback, and meditation.

Lisa Ackerman

A native of California, Lisa worked in the retail and real estate site selection for almost 20 years. Lisa was a co-founder of Integration Technologies and AnySite Software which was sold to MapInfo Corporation in 2003. Working with customers like Wal-Mart, Burger King and Shell Oil, Lisa has consulted and sold large solutions for planning and managing the site selection process.

In 1999, Lisa and her husband Glen received the news that their 2 ½ year old son had been diagnosed with autism. At the time it was the recommendation from multiple physicians that the family find “institutional placement” for their son. Refusing to consider this option, they began their research to find answers for their son. One year later they launched a parent support group in their home with 10 families who were living with autism. As a result of this dedicated group, The Autism Community in Action (TACA) was founded in November 2000.

In March 2004, Lisa retired from her real estate career to assume a full-time volunteer role as Executive Director for TACA. She transitioned from volunteer to a full-time professional capacity in July 2008 managing a national non-profit organization headquartered in Irvine, Calif. From a grass roots beginning in Southern California, under Lisa’s leadership almost $30MM has been raised to help fund TACA’s mission and helping over 80,000 families across the U.S.