Restaurant's T-shirt design contest to raise money for autism research - East Valley Tribune: Health

Restaurant's T-shirt design contest to raise money for autism research

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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 2:37 pm

It’s almost time to design a T-shirt for autism research and dine at a Culver’s restaurant in the East Valley.

From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, the Culver’s restaurant at 3155 W. Ray Road in Chandler, is hosting its inaugural “Eat, Dine and T-shirt Design Contest” for the 8th Annual ZooWalk for Autism Research. The restaurant will be donate 10 percent of its proceeds from

The ZooWalk for Autism and Asperger’s Research, which partners with Arizona State University’s Autism and Asperger’s Research Program, is scheduled for Oct. 6 at the Phoenix Zoo in Papago Park. But Culver’s is encouraging artists — both adults and children to come into the eatery now with ideas for their artwork. Two categories of the artwork (child and adult), which usually is animal-themed, will be chosen to be placed on the back of a T-shirt for the walk, in which about 5,000 people participate.

This year’s ZooWalk, which raises nearly $300,000 annually from private and corporate donations, is dedicated to a one-year multi-treatment study at ASU for children and adults with autism. The study will involve a combination of special vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, carnitine (to boost energy metabolism) and special diet that could help individuals who suffer from the disorder.

Autism, which affects one in 88 children, is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive behavior with symptoms becoming apparent before a child is 3 years old. Similar to Asperger’s syndrome, autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize.

The number of children and adults who are affected by autism has greatly increased in Arizona and the Valley during the last 20 years which has risen from 600 to more than 6,000 people who receive services from the Arizona Department of Developmental Disabilities, according to Jim Adams, an engineering professor at Arizona State University. About 90 percent of people who suffer from autism cannot work and about 80 percent cannot live on their own.

Since Adams’ daughter was diagnosed with autism 18 years ago when she was 2 and a half years old, Adams now mostly researches and studies autism and is the director for ASU’s Asperger’s and Autism Research Program. Adams attributed the increase in part to better diagnosis methods and possibly increased exposure to toxic metals, changes in diet or nutritional intake.

Adams said that it is hard to gauge how many people will show up at Culver’s to design a T-shirt, but so far, they have 30 applications to enter the contest, and that’s from just one school — Gateway Academy in Scottsdale.

The winning shirt designs will later be selected by a committee and produced on the T-shirts in time for the walk, Adams said.

“The walk plays an important role in the fundraising efforts for autism and Asperger’s research,” Adams said. “For those who have showed up and designed the T-shirts in the past, it is a great amount of fun for the kids and the families.”

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