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Medford Family Thankful for School's Autism AwarenessSubmitted: 04/10/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas

MEDFORD - In April millions of Americans recognize Autism Awareness month.

In the Northwoods one family is speaking out for their son Jack, and how their school district is making a difference.

"You know I don't know what I'd do if he didn't have the structure of school," said Cathy Mayrer.

Mayrer's son Jack has been in the Medford Schools since age three.

"Jack was diagnosed at 3 years, 5 months old with autism," said Mayrer.

Before his autism diagnosis, Mayrer says things were difficult.

"Very isolated. Because your friends are all, well, we couldn't go anywhere.
Not with him, because he'd throw his meltdowns, have his tantrums and I didn't know what was wrong with him," said Mayrer.

Jack's autism is "moderately severe" on the autism spectrum.

But things are a lot different now than when Jack was first diagnosed, and part of that is from the help of the Medford Area School District.

"The school itself has just been, this part of his life that I can't even describe, I haven't moved anywhere else because of it. Because they've done the best that I can see locally for my son," said Mayrer.

At Medford Area Middle School, teacher Ryan Brown has been working with Jack for three years.

"Every day is different. You know one day it might be great, but then all of the sudden something is bothering them, or upsetting them. And so each and every day is different, but we just kinda adjust to them," said Brown.
The great days are what Cathy says makes a difference.

"When you see him make little gains in things, it's such a rewarding thing to watch him, and see him make these gains that you never thought he could do."

"I just, I mean personally, I feel really blessed to be able to have these guys. Because Jack and the other students, they're so much fun to be around. I've probably learned more from them, than they've learned from me," said Brown.

Autism is an individual experience, but Cathy hopes theirs can help other families.

"As long as I keep speaking for Jack, and trying to do the best thing for him on his behalf, it might not always be the right thing or the most finesse, but I'm trying to do the best I can for Jack, and that's what I aim to do"


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They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.

But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.

And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.

That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.

It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.

"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate. 

Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday. 

You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.

All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.

That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.

"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."

If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.


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Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.

"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."

On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.

Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.

The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.

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We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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