Valley man rides to mark Autism Awareness Day

FRESNO, Calif.

One local man got on his bike and went 50-miles to raise money and awareness for the cause.

Chris Raley is not who you would call an experienced biker. In fact, he's not even someone you would call a biker at all.

But the father of two got on one Monday morning and rode 50 miles around Koligan Park in Northwest Fresno to raise money and awareness for his son Matthew.

"I'm doing a bike-a-thon for autism. Today is World Autism Day," Raley said.

Raley is inviting local organizations to join a worldwide effort aimed at dedicating more research to finding a source and cure for autism.

Five-year-old Matthew suffers from the disorder and was diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago.

"He started out as I guess what you would say a typically developing child. Between 14-18 months all the progress he had made dropped off," Raley said.

Autism affects one's ability to communicate verbally with others. Often tantrums erupt when a child cannot express how they feel with words.

The Centers for Disease Control released startling new statistics on the rate of autism.

The CDC says one in 88 children in the country has an autisms spectrum disorder.

That's a 78 percent increase over just one decade.

ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser explains the signs to look out for.

"Age six months, if your child isn't looking you in the eye. Age one year, if you say their name and they don't turn their head. And at age 18 months, if they're not doing pretend play like with a doll. Those are key signs, bring it up to your doctor," Dr. Besser said.

Chris did just that, and says there's no substitute for early intervention.

"I feel like every day that goes by that you don't get your child what they need. You're never going to get that day back. And kids with autism they need every single day," Raley said.

On this single day during Autism Awareness Month, Chris rides his bike in honor of his son and the millions of others fighting to get better.

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