PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Like most little girls, Meghan Dumesnil loves to play, color and swim.

"As soon as she was able to walk, she was running pretty much," said her mom, Marie Dumesnil. When Meghan was four years old, doctors diagnosed her with autism.

"Social communication in general is a huge part of what autism is and issues with social communication," said Marie.

Late last year, Marie found Dr. Richard Frye, a child neurologist at Phoenix Children's. He has spent years on research and finding ways to help kids with autism. 

"It was discovered that the mechanism that transports folate into the brain was broken in some children and caused more developmental disorders," said Dr. Frye.

He is using a nutrient that helps bypass blocks in a child's metabolism often linked to autism. "The treatment is something called Leucovorin Calcium, which is a special type of folate that can get into the brain," said Dr. Frye.

He said trials so far show the treatment can improve language, communication and social interactions. Meghan started taking the prescription last year.

"It was just very striking that very early when she started the study, really, her verbal communication exploded," said Marie. "It was not just us noticing it, but other people who were seeing her everyday, including people who didn't know she was in the study."

Dr. Frye hopes to eventually get FDA approval for the treatment, making it available to more families.

"If something like this treatment can help improve the quality of life for the kids first, but also the families, and help the kids to build relationships and friendships. I think it's huge," said Marie.

Dr. Frye said you can still enroll your child for the trials at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Donations can also be made to help fund the research.


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