Last Update: Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Families Walk for Autism Speaks Raises Money for Research PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez, Editor   
Thursday, 26 April 2012 03:15


L to R top: Ronnie Ramos, Patty Ramos, Annamaria Heil, Alfred Acosta, Marleen Aparicio,Lesny Duarte, Jimmy Duarte, Eric Serrano & Gabriel Calvillo. L to R bottom: row: Erik Heil, Aiden Heil, Savannah Barrios, Matthew Duarte & Anthony Duarte

The Duarte family is spreading the word. Every 11 minutes, another family receives the devastating news that their child has autism or an autism spectrum disorder.

The San Fernando family joined thousands of people last weekend at the 10th annual Walk for Autism Speaks held April 21st at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Throughout the month of April, which has been Autism Awareness Month, the family participated in events and encouraged others to get involved.

Autism is considered the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States.

"We want to raise awareness in the City of San Fernando and the entire San Fernando valley," said mother, Lesny Duarte."We encouraged our family and friends to 'Light Up Blue' outside their homes to show their support and spread the awareness.

"My husband and I voluntered with other families to help organize the 'Autism Speaks 10th year Anniversary' where 30,000 people walked. The 5K (3 mile) walk raised $1.6 million to help us and all the families out there touched by Autism find a cure."

She and her husband, Jimmy Duarte, walked with 6- year- old Anthony and 3-yearold Matthew. "Our son Anthony was diagnosed with autism and ADHD at the age of 4. He now attends Harding Elementary School in Sylmar and is in a special day class with other kids who live in the northeast Valley that have autism."

The event was fun and helped to provide support and resources for families. Duarte echoed the slogan for the walk "One in 88 children are diagnosed with Autism and one of them is mine... Walk now for Autism Speaks. It's time to listen."

"Having a child with Autism takes a lots of Patience, Love and Caring," Duarte said. "Everyday is a learning process. Not only for Anthony and me, but for other family members living in our home and for our friends who are always around us."

Trying to find the right therapy for children with autism can be very challenging. The Duarte family spends countless hours at doctors appointments, going to sessions for speech, occupational and behavior therapy, and are in constant contact with Anthony's teachers and aides.

"One in 88 kids have autism and one of them is mine."

Lesny Duarte, mother of 6 year old Anthony

"It is very rewarding to see what your child can accomplish, sometimes it takes a little longer but with help it's there." she said.

"Our son Anthony has inspired us to help spread Autism Awareness in the city of San Fernando and throughout the Valley," Duarte said.

The Walk Now for Autism Speaks event in Pasadena is the largest of its kind in the country. Saturday's walk raised more than $1.5 million.

The funds raised by the Walk are going to be used to fund research at UCLA, USC, Children's Hospital and other Los Angeles based research organizations. You can find the complete news report by clicking here.

For resources and to see more photos from the walk you can go to the Facebook page of Autism Speaks, Los Angeles. Go to:

Signs of Autism

Research now suggests that children as young as 1-yearold can show signs of autism. The most important thing you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and understand the typical developmental milestones your child should be reaching at different ages. Please look over the following list. If you have any concerns about your child's development, don't wait. Speak to your doctor about screening your child for autism.

While validated screening for autism starts only as young as 16 months, the best bet for younger children is to have their development screened at every well visit with a highly validated developmental screening tool. If your child does have autism, early intervention may be his or her best hope.

In clinical terms, there are a few "absolute indicators," often referred to as "red flags," that indicate that a child should be evaluated. For a parent, these are the "red flags" that your child should be screened to ensure that he/she is on the right developmental path.

If your baby shows any of these signs, please ask your pediatrician or family practitioner for an immediate evaluation:

• No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter

• No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter

• No babbling by 12 months

• No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months

• No words by 16 months

• No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months

• Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age.

This information has been provided by First Signs, Inc. For more information about recognizing the early signs of developmental and behavioral disorders, please visit or the Centers for Disease Control at

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2012 05:07