Community Spotlight: Autism Speaks

In this episode of Community Spotlight, TV20 host Leah Longbrake sat down with Leslie Bloom, manager of field development for Northern Ohio Autism Speaks, Trudy Sterns, occupational therapist and parent of an adult on the autism spectrum, and Ebony Spano, parent of a child on the autism spectrum.

Founded in 2005, Autism Speaks is an autism awareness and advocacy group, whose goal is to provide social and mental welfare to those who have autism and their families.

In the United States, 1 in every 59 children are on the autism spectrum, with an estimated 70 million being on the spectrum worldwide. The autism spectrum describes the differences between those who have high functioning autism, and those who have low function autism.

The characteristics of someone on the autism spectrum includes: trouble socializing, behavioral issues, repetitive behaviors, lack of communication, anxiety, epilepsy, and gastrointestinal complications.

Autism is typically diagnosed between the ages of two and three, and can even be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some of the early symptoms can include a lack of eye contact, no verbal communication, or the loss of social skills over time.

For parents with children on the autism spectrum, it can cost an additional $60,000 a year to fully support them. Thankfully, that’s where programs like Autism Speaks come into play. Through their financial and educational support, Autism Speaks provides valuable information on how to care for a child with autism, along with additional services, programs, and even grants.

One of Autism Speak’s biggest financial contributors is their yearly awareness and fundraiser: Autism Speaks Walk. Money raised during the event goes towards information, grants, and research. To register for the Cleveland Autism Speaks Walk, you can visit or email with any questions.

Autism Speaks is always looking for more volunteers. If you wish to volunteer, or just have any questions for the organization, visit their website at or contact them via phone at 216-524-2842.

Catch the full conversation and more on Autism Speaks in this episode of Community Spotlight, only on TV20, We Are Cleveland!

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