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Navigating Autism
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The Areffis are the parents of three children with autism - Kennedy, age 10, Alex, age 9, and Bella, age 7. They wrote "Navigating Autism" because they were not able to find a book to guide them when Kennedy was diagnosed with autism in 2005. They were still struggling to get the assistance she needed when Alex was diagnosed on the spectrum in 2006 and Bella in 2008. Andrew Areffi said that he and his wife decided to write their own "how-to" book to make it easier and quicker for parents to find their way through the system. "We wrote the book that we wanted to read when Kennedy was diagnosed," explains Andrew. Since Kennedy's diagnosis, the Areffis have consulted with parents, schools, therapy companies, large corporations and city governments about the impact of autism on families. They work tirelessly to support parents of autistic children, "We want to help as many people as possible," says Melissa. "With early intervention, these kids can go on to become anything, and not dependent on disability services their entire lives. As parents, we want our kids to have a shot at happiness, and a 'normal' life. We figured we didn't have any right to complain about how things are unless we did something about it to help." The Areffis met when they were both students at Cal State University, San Bernardino. Now married for 16 years, the Areffis live in Toluca Lake, Calif. They are both professionals in the entertainment industry: Melissa as a location manager and scout; Andrew in project development for both film and television. Together, they are a feature writing team and their current feature-film project, "Booth," based on the 12 days John Wilkes Booth spent on the run after the Lincoln assassination, is in pre-production. Information about "Navigating Autism" and the Areffis can be found online at the book's official website - www.NavAutism.com - in addition to social networking sites at Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

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