BULLARD (KYTX) - It's a disorder that now affects 1 in 68 children, yet we still don't know what causes it.
Autism affects so many families nationwide that April has been declared Autism Awareness Month and people right here in East Texas are taking part.
Reid Tiller is a happy, energetic 7-year-old who loves swinging, and playing video games. When you meet him, it's pretty difficult to tell that he lives with autism.
"He was diagnosed when he was 2," says his mom Julie Tiller.
Julie says when Reid was diagnosed, he had severe autism, and struggled heavily with social interaction.
"We would go into a parking lot and if I didn't have his hand he would run from me," she says.
Julie immediately put him into intensive therapy at Tyler's Treatment LearningCcenter or TLC for Children with Autism, sponsored by the Andrews Center.
The program uses ABA therapy. That stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis. It's the scientific method proven to best help people cope with autism.
Julie calls the therapy a miracle.
"Autism awareness to me means appreciation because I look back on our journey and I realize if I didn't have a Treatment Learning Center for Children with Autism, then he would not be rescued, which means not cured. He's in a regular ed classroom with the other 7 year olds and he has a best friend! I never thought he would have a best friend," Julie says.
Julie hopes her community sees Reid's transformation and better understands the daily struggles and unique perspectives that come with autism.
She also hopes others in the community living with the disorder will realize that help is available and reach out.
The TLC classes can be very expensive. Julie says a 7 hour day of treatment is about $225, and
a full year of treatment, which many kids need, can cost up to $55,000.
To help families pay for they therapy, local organizations are holding a Tyler Run forAutism Saturday. Opening ceremonies begin at 7:30 a.m. If you haven't signed up yet don't worry. You can get there as early as 6 a.m. and sign up right there at the park.