First annual autism walk in Youngstown - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

First annual autism walk in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A new study by the Centers for Disease Control shows one in every 88 children is now diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

That's why hundreds of residents from the Mahoning Valley joined together in Youngstown to take part in the first Autism Speaks walk in our region. The walk and events are raising awareness and money for research.

Dr. Julie Knapp, Chairwoman of the walk and director of the Knapp Center for Childhood Development in Boardman, says there is help and hope.

Knapp says for most children with autism if they're not showing their abilities it's because we're failing in the way we're teaching them. She says we need to change our way of reaching them so they can reach their optimal potential.

Estee Thomas from Cornersburg says the more money they raise the more research that can be done to figure out what causes autism, and to find out if there is anything we can do to treat it and possibly stop it. Thomas and her friend, Breanne Ludt, say children and adults who have autism are special even if they need help or extra attention.

Before the walk even began, 39-thousand dollars had already been raised through various fund raisers.

Many of the people taking part in the walk, down Federal Street to Commerce and back to the starting point outside Buffalo Wild Wings, have a special reason for being here.

Some have relatives who have been diagnosed with autism. Crystal Ruscoe's son was just diagnosed with a form of autism seven weeks ago.

She tells 21 News there is help available. She is walking to raise money and has faith that one day researchers are going to find a cure so no family has to hear the news her family had to hear. She says finding a cause and cure is very, very important to her.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that can inhibit a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships. Currently autism receives only a small percent of the research funding available for prevalent childhood diseases. The group of walkers says Autism Speaks it's time to listen.

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