Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD Today, over 1.5 million Americans have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the numbers are rising.
On Sept. 13, over 2,000 people are expected to converge on Stanley Park for the annual Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism. In 2007, Autism Speaks earmarked $30 million for research in an effort to find a cure. Eight-five cents of every dollar raised at the walks nationwide will go toward research.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network documented that one in 150 children in the United States have ASD and one in 94 boys are diagnosed with some form of autism. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others before three years of age.
"There is no cure, no detection and it's the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world. If you don't know somebody with autism by now, you will," Radcliffe Kenison, co-walk chair for the Western New England Autism Speaks Committee, said.
Kenison is the father of two boys, eight-year-old Radcliffe III and five-year-old Arthur, who were both diagnosed with autism before they turned two. He explained that his children are non-verbal and work with several medical professionals on a regular basis to learn how to communicate their wants and needs.
Kenison said he became involved with Autism Speaks three years ago as a team captain for his team, "Radcliffe is the Reason and Arthur too!" He added that his team has been the top fundraising team three years running. So far his team has raised $2,336 toward their fundraising goal of $4,000.
"Every little bit helps, whether you can donate a dollar or an hour as a volunteer. Anything you can do is appreciated," Don Goehring, logistics chair for Walk Now for Autism at Stanley Park, said.
Goehring is also a father of two boys, seven-year-old Luke and five-year-old Jason. Luke was diagnosed with autism just shy of his second birthday and has become only partially verbal. Goehring explained that Luke can communicate his wants through one-word answers but he is unable to carry on a discussion.
Goehring is also the leader of "Luke's Rogue Squadron" walk team.
"It's one thing to see a group doing something but when you see thousands of people out there supporting you, you just don't feel alone anymore," he said of the walk.
"These families are struggling on a daily basis with every single aspect of caring for their child," Kim Niederst, New England Regional Walk Director, said. "It's important to come out and to show support for these families."
Registration for the Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism at Stanley Park will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10 a.m. Lunch will also be available.
For more information about the walk go to www.walknowforautism.org/wne.
For more information about Autism Speaks visit www.autismspeaks.org.