Providing A Voice

Wednesday - July 27, 2011 Share
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By Nygel Martin and Rhibecca Glanstein,
Walk Now Chairs, Autism Speaks

When our son Kaedin was diagnosed with autism, we didn’t know where to turn for answers to our many questions. Feeling lost and confused, we struggled to do what we thought was best for him. It wasn’t until two years later that we heard about an event called Walk Now for Autism Speaks. After learning about the organization and participating in the walk, we found a multitude of resources that we wish had been available when Kaedin first exhibited symptoms.

Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception five years ago, Autism Speaks has committed more than $131 million to treatment and prevention research, awareness initiatives and advocacy efforts. Autism Speaks also supports the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Awareness initiatives include establishing the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments.

Our fundraising and awareness event Walk Now for Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest grassroots autism walk program. The Hawaii walk event was held June 11 at Magic Island, adding to 85 other walks across the U.S. and Canada this year. The event provided a safe and fun environment for friends and families who are affected by autism. The day included a 5K walk, entertainment, and a Community Resource Fair with educational sources and child-friendly activities. While donations were encouraged, the walk was free, allowing full access to the events and service providers.

Participants gathered at this year’s Autism Speaks walk event in June. Photo by Delize Calucag

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder: It affects one in 110 children born today; more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined; a new case of autism is diagnosed nearly every 20 minutes in the U.S. Yet autism receives less funding for research than other less prevalent childhood disorders.

The mission of Autism Speaks is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorders. It is because of the support we have received and our mission of making the world a better place for those dealing with autism that we are dedicated to driving awareness and fighting for a cure with Autism Speaks.

To learn more, visit

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