BALTIMORE (WJZ) — April is Autism Awareness Month.

Andrea Fujii explains the Kennedy Krieger Institute hopes you will help support its research to fight the developmental disorder.

Years of research has helped develop this early achievement class at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. It’s where young children with autism are readied for preschool.

Peter Waldron’s autistic son, Frankie, was non-verbal until the class.

“Since the age of five, he’s really blossomed and speaks non-stop,” Waldron said.

That’s why parents say the event ROAR For Autism is so important. All the money raised goes to fund Kennedy Krieger’s research and enhance their programs.

“In a classroom or in play-based situations, we can really change the way they learn,” said Dr. Rebecca Landa, Kennedy Krieger.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control shows autism is more common than previously thought. They found one in 88 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with the disorder and doctors say it’s higher in Maryland, with one in 80.

“I don’t think that families who live in Maryland are at any increased risk for autism than if they live anywhere else in the United States,” Landa said.

But doctors say these results do show everyone should be aware of the disorder. Maybe that’s why the event Autism ROARs has been around for eight years and keeps on growing.

“Every year, we get to come out and celebrate the milestones that Frankie’s made,” Waldron said.

Last year, ROAR for Autism raised $400,000. This year, they hope to match or beat that.

ROAR for Autism is April 29 at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville. To register, click here.


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