They say it take a village to raise a child.

But when national statistics place the rate of children born with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at one in every 110 children – maybe it take a foundation to support all those who raising autistic children.

A “team effort” attitude has been part of the Northwest Autism Foundation’s (NWAF) mission since it’s inception in 1997. The nonprofit works as a hub to provide education and information to the caregivers of autistic children, and partners with national and local autism resource groups. And in 2001, NWAF published the first autism resource directory, which gathers together an expansive list of organizations, services and resources for the ADS community.

ASD is a developmental disorder without a specific known cause. There are three different types of ASDs: Autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder. Everyone with a form of ASD experiences the condition differently, and so connecting with and raising a child with ASD is a complex experience with a unique set of challenges. Also, because of the limits of medical knowledge of ASD, diagnosis and treatment of the condition are still in somewhat experimental stages.

As one of their many projects, NWAF also helped fundraise (in partnership with the Massachusetts General Hospital) several million dollars to launch the Autism Treatment Network. This network links physicians and hospitals in a partnership to bridge knowledge gaps and improve treatment of people with ASD. Today the initiative has evolved into a university research program for ASD people with medical issues, and works to establish new protocols around ASD treatment.

This week at Portland radio project we featured NW Autism Foundation as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. Podcasted interviews with select members of the organization can be found below.