Why we're "walking now" for Autism Speaks

September 21, 2015 Ednea A Simon, MD

A team from the Pediatric Neuroscience Center will proudly represent Swedish at Walk Now for Autism Speaks, Saturday, September 26, at the Seattle Center. 


Our entire staff will be there – doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, medical assistants and patient care coordinators. 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders. Children with these challenges often have significant difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

Symptoms of ASD often present early in life – usually before a child’s second birthday. A child may achieve physical developmental milestones such as sitting up, but his language and social skills don’t match those of a typically developing child. A child with ASD might not play peek-a-boo or make eye contact. Or, he may become overly focused on one thing and not respond to stimuli such as someone entering the room or his name being spoken.

We call autism a “spectrum disorder” because there’s such a wide range of symptoms, levels of impairment and combined factors (etiologies) associated with it. Some children are only mildly impaired, while others face more severe challenges and very limited interaction with the people around them.

Comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions) are also common. For example, 25% of children with ASD also live with epilepsy.

Why do we walk?
Why is the staff of the Swedish Pediatric Neuroscience Institute “walking now” for Autism Speaks? There are so many reasons.

For kids with autism: we walk with these precious children and their families to increase awareness about autism and fund research to help them live and thrive at their fullest potential. We walk because we want to help families learn strategies so their children can progress in their everyday interactions, learn adaptive living skills and lead healthy, happy and successful lives.

For parents of children with autism: we walk with you because we understand and respect your dedication to your child’s development. We know how hard you work and the limitations autism can put on a family. We have an appreciation for the challenges you face every day – whether it’s helping your child regulate his emotions or living with the comorbidities that require so much from families. Parents and guardians dedicate themselves to learning about the disease, seeking supportive and therapeutic resources and putting into action strategies to help their children adapt and thrive. We walk to honor your commitment to a better future.

For public awareness: we walk so our friends and neighbors will learn about autism and advocate for children and families. We want our presence and solidarity to inspire researchers to carry on and learn more about what causes developmental disorders like autism and, hopefully, find a way to prevent them.

For the researchers, medical professionals, psychologists, therapists, teachers and all who touch the lives of children with autism: we walk because we respect your dedication and efforts tremendously. Someday, because of your work, we’ll make eye contact with every child with autism. We’ll show them our smiles and be blessed to see the light in their eyes and smiles on their faces. What a happy day that will be.

How can you help?

There’s a variety of ways you can help! The Puget Sound Walk Now for Autism Speaks event is Saturday, September 26, 9 a.m.-noon, at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater. Come out and cheer for the Swedish Neuroscience Institute team and all the participants. Or volunteer at the event. Join our team. Or donate to our team. It’s easy to make a difference for kids and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For more information about ASD, visit the Swedish online medical library or the Autism Speaks website.

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