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Dinner Highlights 'A Father's Perspective' On Autism

TROY (WWJ) - For thousands of families, it's a never-ending search for answers. And, tonight, there could be some new answers for families struggling with autism.

Henry Ford Health System, in partnership with Metro Parent magazine, is hosting an "Autism Benefit" tonight and the theme is "A Father's Perspective."

The event will feature a cocktail reception, sit-down meal, and four guest speakers relating their experience as fathers of children with autism spectrum disorder:

  • Brian Calley, State of Michigan Lt. Governor
  • Peter Bell, executive vice president of Autism Speaks
  • Stephen D'Arcy, chair and co-founder Autism Alliance of Michigan
  • Dave Meador, executive vice president & CFO of DTE Energy, and co-founder Autism Alliance of Michigan

Dr. Colleen Allen, with Henry Ford Health System, said the event is a way to bring people together for a central cause.

"We certainly know that fathers are affected in unique ways by having a child with autism. So, we pull together those that are in the community and really activists for autism right now," Allen said.

According to Allen, families from the Metro area will not only share stories of their struggles but they will also celebrate how having an autistic child has improved their lives.

"They will be talking about what it's like to not have that child who can be part of a team necessarily, you know, of course it depends on the child's functioning level, but just tapping into different ages. We're going to see fathers talking about different stories, sharing their challenges and some of the really wonderful things about having a child with autism," Allen said.

A recent study found many people with autism also have epilepsy that does not respond to treatment. Researchers looked at the medical records of 127 children and adults ages 3 to 49 with autism. About 34 percent were found to have treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The dinner takes place at the Somerset Inn in Troy, Wednesday night from 6:00 until 9:00.

Proceeds from Wednesday's dinner will be shared between the Henry Ford Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD) and the Autism Alliance of Michigan.

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