Walk FAR for NAAR

Everyone, here's the details for the Walk FAR for NAAR to support Autism Research. We have a page where you can join or sponsor our team, Team Grasshopper. If you wish to sponsor us or help out in some way, click on the previous link. Below is the email we're sending out to everyone we know:

As most of you know, our younger son, Grasshopper, has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified), or PDD-NOS.

When most people think of autism, they think of a person who doesn’t speak, doesn’t make eye contact, and pretty much lives in their “own little world”, oblivious to what’s going on around them. Luckily for Grasshopper, he is not affected to this degree. He is very high-functioning, and is extremely outgoing, especially with his peers. However, making eye contact is still something he’s working on. And there are times that he does get stuck in his “own little world”, and it’s difficult to coax him back to reality.

He’s extremely intelligent and performs above grade level academically. But following the classroom routine can be a challenge for him. He attends a regular classroom, with the help of a one-to-one aide.

To most of the general public, he probably looks like a regular child who has some bratty, and some odd, behaviors. Perhaps it appears that we’re too hard on him; at other times perhaps it appears we’re too tolerant.

In any case, Grasshopper is NOT an average child. While he strives to be like his classmates, there are some things they do on a regular basis that he has yet to accomplish. Only this year, at age 6, did we think he was ready for a short vacation – a weekend away. He regularly visits the dentist, but has not yet let the hygienist clean his teeth. He is terrified of loud noises – even the possibility of a loud noise. On a recent trip to African Lion Safari in Canada, we saw the elephants taking a swim. But Grasshopper couldn’t see what graceful swimmers these huge creatures are because he was afraid they would make a trumpeting sound. If we are at Wegmans while someone is inflating a balloon, he covers his ears and refuses to move.

Even with all this, we consider our family very lucky. Many autistic children are more severely affected. They are non-verbal, many cannot handle the over-stimulation of a trip to Wegmans, balloons or not.

Sadly, we do not know what causes autism and have no way to biologically diagnose autism spectrum disorders. The diagnosis guidelines are actually found in the DSM-IV, a mental health reference tool. Autism occurs in as many as one in every 250 births. Some studies place the prevalence even higher. Autism often inhibits a person’s ability to communicate, respond to surroundings or form relationships with others. Despite these facts, autism research remains one of the lowest funded areas of medical research.

Please help us change that by supporting the Rochester Walk F.A.R for NAAR. The abbreviation F.A.R. stands for Families and Friends for Autism Research, and NAAR stands for National Alliance for Autism Research. Please join us for our walk on Sunday, September 25 at Frontier Field. If you are interested, please call me for details, or visit www.autismwalk.org. If you can’t join us at the walk, please consider sponsoring us for this worthwhile cause. Please make checks payable to NAAR, and return to us by September 23, so we can turn them in at the walk. Our family fundraising goal is $500. All contributions are tax deductible.

Thank you for considering supporting us in this cause.


Ellen and Vince Franco

P.S. Please contact your senators and representatives, and ask them to support the Autism Act of 2005. For more information, please visit www.autismbill.org.


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