On October 20 2019, I will be participating in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon (21 km) at the Toronto Island in support of Project MSSNG (pronounced "missing") to represent the missing information about autism the research program seeks to deliver. MSSNG is a groundbreaking partnership between Autism Speaks, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Google Cloud and the research community to change the future of autism with open science. The goal is to sequence the complete genomes of more than 10,000 individuals affected by autism on an open-source platform giving researchers from around the world a valuable resource to better understand the genetics of autism.
Over twenty one years ago, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with autism, which refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. It is not clear what causes autism. However, thriving with such conditions require consistent routines, sticking to a schedule, rewarding good behaviour and creating a safe environment.
My brother-in-law, though nonverbal, has always been one of us in my mind, and the last few years of spending quality moments with him continue to prove that. He loves to keep things organized around our home, enjoys the outdoors and solving jigsaw puzzles and is a huge fan of South Indian music, particularly by Oscar-winning composer A.R.Rahman.
Given the unanswered questions we still have, every dollar will help close gaps in the world's understanding of autism. I am extremely grateful for the funds raised - rest assured that as I run 21 KMs, every dollar will be a reminder that we are one step closer to identifying the causes of subtypes of autism, as well as advancing the current diagnosis and personalized treatment available.