The family friendly event will feature a live remote with J-103 FM and include a pancake breakfast, a bake auction, raffles, car wash, as well as an inflatable playground and water slides for kids.
The Cleveland fundraiser will help support the ‘Walk Now for Autism Speaks’ event to be held in Nashville on Sept.11, in collaboration with 78 similar “Walk Now” events across the nation, making it the single most powerful movement to fund research for autism.
Heidi and Chris Humphries of Cleveland, whose 3-year-old son Brodie has autism, said they are excited about the local event and would love to see a record turnout in Cleveland to support raising awareness and funds for a disorder that affects 1 in 110 children and 1 in 70 boys.
“Statistics show 67 children are diagnosed with autism each day and that means a new case is diagnosed every 20 minutes,” said Heidi, a stay-at-home mom. “More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. It’s almost epidemic.”
According to the Autism Society, autism spectrum disorder is the fastest growing developmental disability with a 1,148 percent growth rate. But intensive early intervention yields a tremendous amount of progress in children by the time they enter kindergarten, often reducing the need for intensive supports.
According to a 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorders are reported to occur “in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, yet are on average 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls.
“About 40 percent of children with an ASD do not talk at all. Another 25 to 30 percent of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Others may speak, but not until later in childhood.”
When asked how they were able to detect Brodie’s autism, Heidi said, “I took him for his two-year checkup and the doctor asked me a simple question. ‘How many words is Brodie speaking?’ I said, ‘zero to two words maybe, but they are unclear.
He said, ‘Your child should be speaking at least 50 to 100 words at the age of 2.’
“That became a red flag that sparked checklist after checklist and doctor after doctor. Soon after that we went to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville and got a diagnosis. That was on Aug. 8, 2009.”
According to the CDC, diagnosing autism spectrum disorders can be difficult, since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. It can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger.
By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable.
“From birth to 5 years, your child should reach milestones in how he plays, learns, speaks and acts. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a developmental problem, even autism,” warns the CDC.
“The good news is, the earlier it’s recognized the more you can do to help your child reach her full potential.”
Heidi, who served two years in the U.S. Navy and spent time in Iraq, said Brodie took everything from feeding therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy to behavioral and occupational therapy.
The couple said it has been a test of their faith as well as a learning experience.
“It has made us more aware that God is not going to put any more on us than we can handle, but through every trial you grow stronger,” Heidi said.
“If you just believe that He is going to take care of every need you have, you’ll be all right. That’s how we feel about it. We feel this is a blessing.”
Walk Now for Autism Speaks is a family friendly event uniting thousands across the country around a single cause. Currently, there is no cure for autism. More volunteers are needed to join the fight.
“All the money collected will go to the walk (event),” said Humphries. “We will take the money to Nashville and hand it in. Our goal is to ultimately find a cure for autism.”
For further information, visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/tennessee.