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O.C. Speech Center Is a Boy’s ‘Haven’

Times Staff Writer

Jan Fuller’s son was 14 when he was kicked out of three public schools in the course of three months.

He couldn’t get along with others in a lunchroom, he once forced his way into a girls’ bathroom, and he threatened to throw a computer.

“I didn’t know where to take him. It was extremely frustrating. It cost a lot of tears,” Fuller said. “I can’t blame the school district here in Rancho Cucamonga.... They tried. But nothing was working.”

She believed Robert was autistic; his speech was unusual. A family psychologist referred Fuller to the Speech and Language Development Center in Buena Park, where her son, now 18, has learned appropriate behaviors and holds down a job at the student store.

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Fuller has since learned that her son has Klinefelter syndrome. He has two extra chromosomes, a condition that affects speech and physical development.

The center staff “have tried to get him to behave. He’s learning and he’s accepted. That is hard to find,” Fuller said.

The center “has been a haven for us,” she said.

The Speech and Language Development Center has been helping people like Fuller and her son for nearly 50 years.

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The center recently received $15,000 from the 2004 Times Holiday Campaign, which raises money for nonprofit groups that assist disadvantaged children and youth in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

Center representative Muff Elstran said the money would be allocated for a $191,000 playground designed to challenge students’ coordination and self-esteem.

Tuition is usually paid by their school districts, but that money doesn’t cover extras like the playground.

“We pride ourselves on having more for our students,” Elstran said. “We know it’s worth it. We have a million stories of kids who were lost until they came here.”

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HOW TO GIVE

The annual Holiday Campaign is part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation. Donations supporting the campaign to help disadvantaged children and youths should be sent to L.A. Times Holiday Campaign, File 56986, Los Angeles, CA 90074-6986. Do not send cash.

Credit card donations can be made at latimes.com/holiday campaign. Information: (800) LATIMES, Ext. 75771.

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