Autism Walk 2013: Hundreds Take Action for Autism

By Ashley Hinson, Reporter

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By Ashley Hinson

The mission has always been awareness. Awareness about autism and families affected by it.

Team Tristan knows it, and lives it, every day.

"We were on a long journey of kind of running into dead end roads and not really able to get anywhere," says Jennifer Bohn, mother of Tristan. Tristan is autistic.

The Autism Society has helped them to connect with other families fighting some of the same battles. Bohn is currently helping her son, and serving as co-president on the board of the East Central Iowa Autism Society.

"In the last couple of years he's made huge huge gains," she said.

The 6th annual Autism Walk brought together hundreds with a new goal in mind; Action.

"I think we're well past the point of awareness." Bohn adds, "Everybody is connected to somebody {with autism} at this point in their life."

The money raised at this year's walk will help dozens of families who are coping with an autism diagnosis. Cindy Dircks, co-president of the Eastern Iowa Autism Society, says many of the procedures and therapies are pricey.

"The therapies can run anywhere from 90 to 200 dollars an hour, and insurance rarely covers an autism diagnosis," says Dircks. Dircks' son Dallas is also autistic.

But she says the treatment options out have really grown, thanks to the awareness campaign both locally and nationally. "Eastern Iowa's definitely getting better. More practitioners are coming in. Different therapists. More things are available to our kids," says Dircks.

The group provides support, literature, and financial grants to those who need the help. 37 Families benefitted from those grants of up to $500. The organization's resources, for the first time last year, helped an adult on the spectrum.

"We were able to see a high functioning person with autism, advocating for himself, going through the process on his own," says Dircks.

The mission, while focusing in on taking action for the hurdles associated with autism, is really about creating a support network.

"As a family, now that we're in a better place we really want to be able to contribute and provide other families that are just getting started on that journey a way to not have to reinvent the wheel," says Bohn.

Connecting families...and pieces of the Autism puzzle.

For more on the organization, visit www.eciautismsociety.org

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