Every day researchers make strides in understanding the roots of autism and ways to support those living with the condition. Later this month members of the Case Western Reserve community will demonstrate their support for scientists and families by taking part in Cleveland’s Walk Now for Autism Speaks event.
The one-mile walk, to be held at 10 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 19 at in Voinovich Park, is one of dozens that take place around the country each year as the signature fundraising event of Autism Speaks, a national autism science and advocacy organization. Case Western Reserve’s participation is being organized through the International Center for Autism Research. Those who want to participate are encouraged to join the center’s team.
The International Center for Autism Research launched recently with the support of the Cleveland Foundation, Mt. Sinai Foundation and DiYorio Family Foundation. The center supports the development of research programs at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth and affiliated community resources to coordinate basic, clinical, translational and interdisciplinary research.
The team, among more than 100 others, will walk to raise funds to increase awareness about the growing prevalence of autism and for autism research.
Earlier this year, Autism Speaks awarded $400,000 to School of Medicine Professor David Katz to investigate ways to restore healthier functioning to brain pathways involved in autism. The funding, which was the first grant Autism Speaks awarded in Northeast Ohio, also will help create the world’s largest whole-genome library of individuals with autism, through collaboration with the Beijing Genome Institute.
“Autism spectrum disorder is really the No. 1 childhood disability at this point, and we have little understanding yet of why it occurs and why it’s increasing,” said Lynn Singer, deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs. “By bringing together the resources we have as a major research university, we hope to tackle autism spectrum disorders to learn how to prevent them and how to identify children when they’re infants so we can begin treatment sooner.”