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Mother and son diagnosed with autism, both walk for a cure

Published On: Apr 27 2013 08:46:13 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 27 2013 09:43:53 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

There is still no known cause or cure for autism, but it does have tremendous support from millions of people who are affected every day by the disorder.

On Saturday, the Abilene Zoo hosted the "Autism Speaks" walk to raise money and awareness. Research shows that every 11 minutes a family finds out that their child has autism.

Hundreds of people showed up to walk in teams for their loved ones. One family walked for a son and a mother. 

Terra Ward and her ten year old son Dakota walked for Autism. Dakota was diagnosed with the disorder about a year ago, and recently, Terra was too. Terra said her life has changed quite a bit since finding out.

"I stay at home a lot," said Ward. "I've got little ones that I take care of. My youngest one."

Typically this type of event would be too overwhelming for Dakota.

"You see how he's clinging to me," said Ward. "This is how he's going to be because he doesn't do crowds."

However, Terra said, in order to bring awareness to the disorder, it's worth it to tough it out through the crowd.

Thankfully, Terra and Dakota don't have to walk this journey by themselves. Terra's fiance Hank Sawyer said they handle challenges together.

Sawyer said, "{I} encourage them and tell them that they're not alone. They have friends on their side and God's help too as well."

Terra's main goal is to change the stereotypes that come with Autism.

"There are a lot of people that don't know what it is and they treat him likes he's stupid and he's not," said Ward.  "He's very, very smart."

As the day went on, Dakota warmed up to all the animals in the zoo. Terra said one the biggest lessons she's learned in their recent diagnosis is to be patient with herself and Dakota. 

Boys are five times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Over two million people i the U.S. are affected by the disorder.