Thousands turn out for Autism Speaks walk

HOUSTON-  Thousands gathered in downtown Houston Sunday at Minute Maid Park for the annual Autism Speaks walk.

“The primary goal of the walk is twofold- we’re going to raise awareness in the community and we’re going to raise funds,” event co-chair Allyson Johnstone Howard.

In the United States, 1 in 68 children have autism.  Boys are five times more likely than girls to be on the spectrum.

No one knows the true cause of autism, but a genetic and environmental link is one possibility.

“Autism affects all races, socioeconomic status. If you talk to enough people, you’re going to run into someone who is affected by autism," Uti Pieters- Gray said.

Her son is autistic. Pieters-Gray said sometimes adjusting to new situations is very hard for them.

“Changes in their routine can be a big problem, but communicating, making friends keeping friends as they get older, can be an obstacle for them,” she adds.

Cost can also be an obstacle. It can cost an additional $60,000 per year per child for their special needs care, and across a lifetime it can be anywhere from $1.4 to $2.4 million in expenses.

But, sometimes the biggest obstacles are other people.

“People need to be more understanding and not so quick to judge, because they’re just normal kids like every other kid- they’re just slightly different. People just need to not judge so hard”said Roque Escobar, whose brother has autism.