The surge in children diagnosed with autism is alarming.
Yet for its newfound prevalence, the money that goes toward autism research is small when compared to other disorders, according to Callie Durham, one of the founders of Queens for A Cause.
The organization held an Autism 5K Run yesterday in downtown McMinnville with 322 participants raising between $8,000 and $10,000 for autism research.
“There are more children diagnosed with autism today than cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined,” said Durham. “But all of those receive more funding than autism. It’s a disorder that’s really growing. When I did a research paper on it four years ago, 1-in-150 children were diagnosed with autism. Now the latest figures show it’s 1-in-88.”
Durham says it’s not known why the number of autistic children is soaring in America and that’s precisely why more research is needed. She says early detection and proper therapy are two keys to helping autistic children develop normal speech and behavior.
“I like to subscribe to the light-switch theory,” said Durham when explaining why some children develop autism. “Some people are born with that light switch and when they encounter certain environmental factors, it turns the light switch on. Some people don’t have that light switch at all.”
Durham said nursery pesticides and immunization shots are two common environmental toxins people blame for causing autism.
As for the event itself, this is the second year for the Autism 5K Run. It was held in Morrison its inaugural year, drew 105 participants, and raised right at $5,000. Organizers were impressed with Saturday’s turnout and believed it could have been even better if morning showers didn’t arrive.
As for the final fundraising figure, organizers said they have close to $10,000 raised, but still have to pay for T-shirts and a few other expenses before getting the final number.