Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its estimate of autism prevalence in the United States to 1 in 88 children – 1 in 49 in New Jersey. By comparison, this is more children than are affected by diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome – combined.
Behind all these statistics are real families, real individuals struggling each and every day. Some with autism are struggling to find satisfying jobs where they can productively use their talents and abilities. Others with autism have extremely complicated medical and social challenges. Make no mistake though, wherever one falls on the spectrum, all with autism struggle each and every day.
Meet the Lesnevich family of Scotch Plains. “When we saw the new numbers released, we realized that we had to do even more to support Autism awareness in order to create a better future for those on the spectrum including our son Griffin. It is overwhelming to know that Griffin is 1 in 49 children living with autism in New Jersey. Since his diagnosis in December of 2008, Griffin has progressively improved his speech and language skills and has even begun to make friends”, says MaryKate Lesnevich. “My hope is that more families will look at these numbers and realize why it’s so important to raise awareness and why it’s everyone’s issue.” (Autism costs the nation $126 billion per year).
Each year, the Lesnevich family invites their friends and extended family to walk with their team, “Grateful for Griffin” at the North/Central NJ Walk Now for Autism Speaks. This year’s Walk will take place on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at Nomahegan Park in Cranford. “It's not easy to hear the news that your child has autism, and realize that your life will be utterly different than you had expected it to be. Daily life with a special-needs child presents many unique challenges, but also many opportunities to celebrate accomplishments. We walk because we are truly grateful to have Griffin in our lives to show us how to see things differently so that we may all learn to love each other unconditionally. Autism Speaks has committed over $173 million to research and developing innovative resources for families like my own.”
April is Autism Awareness Month. Now is the time to consider joining the Lesnevich family and hundreds of other families at the North/Central NJ Walk by registering today. Once you do, you can begin inviting friends, family and co-workers to join your team. For more information or to register for the Walk, please visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/ncnj or contact Dina Schwab at 609-228-7315.
Autism Speaks is the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are the signature fundraising events for Autism Speaks, raising more than $28.5 million alone in 2011 in 85 cities across the U.S. and Canada to support autism research, awareness and advocacy.
For more information about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.