Walk Now for Autism Speaks raises money for local families



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Posted on September 28, 2013 at 6:38 PM

AUSTIN -- Every 11 minutes an American child is diagnosed with autism. On Saturday, Austinites came together to raise awareness and money for local families at "Walk Now for Austism Speaks."

More than 35,000 people filled the grounds of Camp Mabry, walking to raise money for research and awareness about autism, the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S.

"One in 88 kids total and that is a lot of kids," said Deborah Frankhouser, whose son has autism. "That's more than one percent of our population that's currently being diagnosed. It's a huge issue all the way from the smallest children to the adults that are now trying to get into the workforce."

Frankhouser's nine-year-old son, Cash, was diagnosed when he was three years old.

"He had a speech delay," she said. "He actually didn't talk until he was four."

Team Cash, filled with family and friends, is out to not only raise money and awareness, but also to suppor ttheir families.

"You feel very isolated when it first happens, like you're the only one in the world this is happening to," Frankhouser said.

Kimberly Waltmon, co-chair of Greater Austin Autism Speaks, said the time after children are diagnosed can be very difficult for families.

"They're not sure where to start, where to get help, how to help their child," Waltmon said. "That's the first thing they're looking to get help with."

Waltmon said the walk connects people with groups that offer resources. More than 40 service providers were on hand at the walk to educate participants.

"We want people to understand some of the quirks and things that go along with having autism, but a lot of these kids are functional," Frankhouser said. "They can go to school, they can live with the community, be in the community and it's OK."