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Walking For A Cause

April 25, 2010

This morning I attended the 8th Annual Imagine Walk. The walk-a-thon is organized by The Autism Project to raise money for educating and empowering children, families, and professionals affected by autism.  As an educator, I have worked with many children and families touched by autism.  It has brought me great joys, new challenges, and a desire to learn and do more for the cause.

[Due to the wet weather, I kept my camera safely tucked away.  In place of pictures, I’d love to share some information on autism.]

What is autism?

Autism is a disability that affects social interaction and communication.  It is complex disorder, which falls along a spectrum of disorders, labeled pervasive developmental disoders (PDD). Children and adults with autism have varying levels of verbal and non-verbal communication and differing levels of social interaction.

Who has autism?

The number of children diagnosed with autism continues to rise.  Children are typically diagnosed in the toddler years, but symptoms vary.  At this point, it is estimated that 1:110 children gets diagnosed with autism.  1:70 boys gets the diagnosis. The numbers are staggering.

What causes autism?

There is no clear answer.  Research has developed effective techniques to educate and empower individuals with autism. There are also methods to address symptoms of autism; however, the cause of autism is unclear.

This question is also very controversial.  According to Autism Speaks, “The best scientific evidence available to us today points toward a potential for various combinations of factors causing autism – multiple genetic components that may cause autism on their own or possibly when combined with exposure to as yet undetermined environmental factors. Timing of exposure during the child’s development (before, during or after birth) may also play a role in the development or final presentation of the disorder.”

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I realize that this is a departure from my typical food and fitness post, but it is certainly a hot topic in wellness communities. Because environmental factors may play a role in the incidence of autism, we must continue to support research to determine what our role is in this disorder that affects so many.

It was a cold, rainy April morning, but hundreds of local families turned out for the great event!  It was powerful to see the large groups of families supporting one another and advocating for their children.  We walked, talked, and made the most of the wet morning.  Thousands of dollars were raised for a worthy cause!

What causes/charities are near and dear to you? We all support worthy causes.  Please share with me. Knowledge is power!

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