Cristy Cash's "Joy" ful run for Team Autism

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

My niece Joy has been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. She has worked so hard at learning the skills she needs to make it in this society! I am so proud of her.

Facts about Autism
Did you know…
• 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism
• 1 in 94 boys is on the autism spectrum
• 67 children are diagnosed per day
• A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes
• More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
• Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
• Autism costs the nation over $90 billion per year, a figure expected to double in the next decade
• Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
• Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
• There is no medical detection or cure for autism

In a realization that more and more families were dealing with autism and that there was so much support needed, my sister Melinda Lauffenburger and another concerned parent started the Edmond Family Center for Autism. This group has been a beacon in the night to families who need help understanding research, finding low cost treatment options for their children and who sometimes just need a way to connect with others who deal with the same challenges they do.

What are some of the challenges?

• Between 80% and 90% of couples with autistic children divorce under the pressure
• It is typically impossible for both parents of an autistic child to work – this is financially difficult for most families
• Treatments needed are sometimes very expensive and not covered by insurance
• Schools are not always equipped to help these young people who many times have normal to above average IQ.

Incidence vs. Private Funding
• Leukemia: Affects 1 in 25,000 / Funding: $310 million
• Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 20,000 / Funding: $175 million
• Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 8,000 / Funding: $394 million
• Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $130 million
• Autism: Affects 1 in 150 / Funding: $15 million

What are we going to do to help?

I have committed to run a marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii December 9th 2007 in honor of Joy. We have also committed to raising money for two charities: Team Autism which is committed to raising much needed awareness of autism through running marathons in exotic locations and the Edmond Family Center for Autism (EFCA) which is the recipient of the funds for this marathon’s fundraising efforts. This is the banner year for the Team Autism and EFCA partnership and I am so thrilled that this will launch the EFCA to become the Oklahoma Family Center for Autism. This will give the Center the boost it needs to multiply its ability to serve Oklahoma families who deal with Autism. My hope is that awareness and participation in events like this will help treatments become more accessible, support for families to be more readily available and for more professionals to begin contributing their much needed talents in the area of autism.

Matt and I have committed to raising $5,000.00 for this cause and we hope you will consider making a tax deductible donation toward this cause. Please click the DONATE link for more information. Checks should be made to the Edmond Family Center for Autism.

Matt and I will be a part of Joy’s support team for the rest of our lives and I hope that this step in the direction we are going will be the beginning of a stampede that rushes help toward all people dealing with autism.

Thank you so much and we will keep you posted on the progress!