INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- One in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Sunday, the local non-profit organization Milestones Autism Resources hosted an annual fundraiser to help connect professionals with parents of children with autism including one of FOX 8's own.
Families partook in the 7th Annual Strike It Big bowling fundraiser at Spins Bowl in Independence Sunday to raise money for an autism help desk.
Our very own FOX 8 anchor Autumn Ziemba, whose three-year-old son, Simon, was diagnosed with leukemia in the middle of a fight with autism, was in attendance.
"I think one of the reasons we were so in disbelief and even denial in the beginning was because three months ago he had just been diagnosed with autism and we were still trying to swallow that pill," Ziemba said.
That's where Milestones steps in. They help provide information to families about resources to assist with this diagnosis. Often these families have no way of knowing where to begin looking for them.
"We're here to improve the lives of individuals with autism by connecting them, their families and professionals with evidence based information and resources," said Mia Buchwald Gelles with Milestones Autism Resources, "So families call us, email us, get on Facebook and connect with us to ask all kinds of questions from first diagnosis to 'what do I do now that my child is an adult?'"
The family-friendly event featured bowling, face painting, balloon artists and pizza. All of this to help connect professionals with individuals on the autism spectrum and help them reach their full potential.
"When you get that diagnosis and you have no idea what to do, to be able to call somewhere and get free help just to direct you, is awesome," said Sam Pines who is a parent of a child with autism.
"The weight of the world was lifted off of our shoulders once we got involved with this community. It's been a beautiful thing for us," said another parent, Phillip Irvin.
Milestones Autism Resources' help desk was founded sixteen years ago and used by close to 600 clients each year, including Ziemba's son, Simon, who we are happy to remind everyone, is now in remission.