WATERBORO (WGME) – The largest autism study ever conducted is underway across the country and more recently, here in Maine.
Kaylee Lurvey was diagnosed with autism at three years old, shortly after she stopped talking.
Now ten going on eleven, she uses an IPad to communicate at home and school, but still struggles with sensory issues and some simple tasks.
Kaylee’s mother Candy said “It was only a few years ago she was actually able to start putting on her own socks and her shoes.”
Her mom, Candy, would like some answers. She stated “Right now there’s not a whole lot of information about what causes autism, which is why I’m so big for the research aspect.”
The family hosts its own annual event to raise money for research, but they’re also participating in “SPARK,” a national autism research project and the largest one ever.
Dr. Matthew Siegel of Maine Behavioral Healthcare said “The goal is to collect 50,000 individuals with autism and their biological parents.
Dr. Matthew Siegel is the principal investigator for the clinical site in Northern New England. He said a small DNA sample from participants will help identify the genes linked to autism to better understand it. He stated “The more we understand and are specific, the more we can tailor our treatments and help and support.”
When it comes to this region, Siegel said they’re starting right here in Maine. About 70 people have already signed up, and he stated they need at least 200 each year for the next two to three years. He added “And that person with autism can be any age, any gender, any location. They just have to have a clinical diagnosis of autism.”
It can all be done from home.
Candy said “Yeah, we’ve already done our sample.”
Results are years away, but the Lurveys hope this study will shed new light on autism that could make a difference for kids like Kaylee. Candy concluded “We’d love to have kaylee’s little voice back.”