Autism Speaks

 In Culture, Feature

With the help of dedicated St. Louis volunteers, the local chapter of this national organization sets out to raise $1 million this year to support autism research.


Although researchers, specialists and doctors continue to learn more about autism with each passing year, the disorder, which affects the brain’s development of social and communication skills, largely remains a mystery. There is no known cause or cure for autism, and most of the general population knows little about it.

Autism Speaks, the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the nation, strives to educate the public on the disorder as well as to help fund research, advocacy and services for families affected by autism. Chapters across the nation mobilize volunteer efforts, supporting the vision of the organization on a grassroots level.

The Cause: It is estimated that 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more prevalent than childhood cancer, juvenile
diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. The St. Louis chapter of Autism Speaks has set a goal of raising $1 million this year toward
propelling autism research forward. The money is funded in large part through the annual Walk Now For Autism Speaks events
that take place in over 70 cities across Canada and the United Kingdom. The St. Louis walk on October 10 in Forest Park is expected to attract over 20,000 participants, anticipates Rebecca Fehlig, executive director of the St. Louis chapter. To register, log on to walknowforautism. org/stlouis.

Local Impact: After tallying the monies raised through each chapter’s walk events and other fundraising efforts, Autism Speaks’ National Scientific Advisory Board chooses which institutions will receive grant monies. Over $1.6 million has been invested into autism research projects in Missouri at institutions including the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University and Washington University-School of Medicine.

Get Involved: “We have a local staff of two, therefore we rely on the initiative and dedication of our local volunteer support,” says Fehlig. Help the St. Louis chapter meet its million dollar goal by organizing your own corporate, school or family walk team during the Walk Now For Autism Speaks event in October. Lend your time and special skill set by serving on one of the numerous committees, encourage legislative action or make a tax-deductible donation. It’s through generous donors and the tireless efforts of local volunteers that the puzzle of autism will be solved. For more info on committee
involvement, call 314.989.1003.

For more ways to get involved with Autism Speaks, visit





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