Mike Tapogna has a mission:  raising autism awareness by biking across the United States this summer.  He also wants to raise funds for the Autism Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital.   His son, Luca, is nine years old and has Autism Spectrum Disorder (high functioning, formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome).   “He is the most amazing person I know and the love of my life. My wife and I are completely devoted to his success in life. Autism is part of our daily lives and requires a great deal of hard work and dedication.” To promote awareness and support for individuals and families touched by Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mike will head out of Seattle on July 1st, hoping to reach New York City the first week in August. He’ll be riding solo and completely unsupported, but OPBA is betting that he’ll make plenty of new friends along the way to keep him company and provide support as needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have autism. The prevalence is 1 in 42 for boys and 1 in 189 for girls. These rates yield a gender ratio of about five boys for every girl.  Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.

Each child or adult with autism is unique…

According to the Washington State Department of Health, “It is estimated that 8,000 to 12,000 children in Washington State have some form of autism.”  Treating autism effectively requires the involvement of a child’s entire family, a team of professionals, and often therapy delivered in specialized centers.  Targeted social skills training and specialized teaching programs can help as a child develops and matures.   Seattle Children’s Autism Center provides assessment, diagnosis, treatment and support for autism spectrum disorders. The center offers a range of medical and mental health services for babies, children and young adults.

Mike lives in Port Townsend and he’s no doubt training all over the OP in preparation for his transcontinental trek.  He asked OPBA to help and we’re more than happy to oblige! So go to Mike’s fundraising page and make a donation!  Wish him luck and let him know there are lots of fellow cyclists out here on the Olympic Peninsula who’ll be cheering him on.

Oh, and Luca:  Once Dad’s recovered from his transcontinental trek, bring him and Mom along and come “Ride the OP” with us!