This is a guest post by Kristin and Brian Thompson, supporters of Autism Speaks’ Autism Tissue Program (ATP).
On October 17, 2010 parents and friends of Reid Thompson will be running in the Long Beach Marathon to raise funds and awareness for Autism Speaks’ Autism Tissue Program (ATP). Reid, an 11-year-old boy with autism from Thousand Oaks, CA tragically and unexpectedly died in his sleep in August 2007. “It is our way of honoring Reid’s memory and helping an organization dedicated to autism research,” said Brian Thompson, Reid’s father.
Even though this was a catastrophic loss for the family, the Thompsons courageously made the decision to donate Reid’s brain tissue to the ATP within the critical time period of less than 36 hours after his death. The cause of Reid’s death is unknown as the autopsy results were all normal, with the exception of his brain being slightly heavier than average (this is common among individuals with autism). Although medical experts cannot provide a definitive cause of death, they hypothesize that Reid died from a massive seizure, even though he had no history of seizures.
Reid’s parents continue to seek answers about his untimely death, not only for their own closure, but also to help other families affected by autism. “Reid had autism but we don’t know exactly why his life here with us was cut short,” said Thompson. “Leading scientists are working with the ATP and are already using tissue donated by Reid in hopes of providing our family, friends, and others impacted by autism with the answers we seek. Reid is a teacher and we hope his contribution along with the ground-breaking work being done by the ATP helps scientists understand autism, which will lead to a cure”.
The ATP makes brain tissue available to as many qualified scientists as possible to advance autism research and unravel the mysteries of this and related neurological conditions. In fact, it is the only program solely dedicated to increasing and enhancing the availability of post-mortem brain tissue for basic research in autism. Each precious donation to this program greatly adds to our understanding of the complexities of the human brain and the factors that contribute to autism.
Months after Reid’s passing, Brian met another parent, Ben Fesagaiga, who had just founded an all-volunteer non-profit called Train 4 Autism. Train 4 Autism helps people raise funds for various autism-related charities through participating in athletic events such as 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, full marathons, and triathlons. In about three years time, the organization has grown to 35 chapters across the United States and has raised more than $100,000 for autism-related charities.
Team Reid’s Long Beach Marathon participants will include Reid’s father Brian, Brian’s wife Kristin, and Team Captain and Train 4 Autism Director of Communications Molly Rearick, Reid’s former teacher. Team Reid has participated in this event since 2008 and also has a presence at the annual Los Angeles Walk Now For Autism Speaks event in support of Autism Speaks.
To support Team Reid and their efforts at the Long Beach Marathon in 2010, click here.
More information on the ATP can be found at: www.autismtissueprogram.org or by calling (877) 333-0999. The ATP is deeply grateful to the Thompson family for their efforts to advance research into the causes and treatments for autism.