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NBA Star Spencer Haywood Takes on Autism

Celebrity Scene News - October 29, 2007
by Pete Allman
  Spencer HaywoodFormer NBA star Spencer Haywood has endorsed the Benzer Autism Foundation.

Haywood, 58, is known for his successful fight in the 70s challenging NBA rules in the U.S. Supreme Court resulting in teenage players gaining the right to enter the NBA draft early before completing four years of college eligibility. Haywood was also the youngest player on the U.S. Olympic Basketball team, and he holds the record for the most points in rebounds.

Haywood says he understands the importance of programs in another fight — efforts to address autism.

Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication skills marked by restricted and repetitive motions and behaviors.

Autism affects every nationality, adults and children.

Haywood has been named to the board of directors and will serve as spokesperson for the Benzer Autism Foundation.

The foundation is a newly formed nonprofit corporation established by Las Vegas-based general contractor and philanthropist Leon Benzer. The focus is on programs to benefit adults with autism who have lost their parents or caretakers. Benzer is the parent of a young child with autism.

Benzer said that although the government statistics state that only 1 in 150 children have autism, the number could be higher.

“I know some parents who hide the fact that their children have autism,” said Benzer.
Autism is a hidden, many times misunderstood disorder that is misdiagnosed frequently by medical practitioners advising low-income families, as well as the affluent.

Leon Benzer According to Haywood, there are many parents who are in denial about autism, despite all the recent publicity surrounding the disorder.

“Until we come out of denial and admit to the reality of this condition, we won’t find a solution,” he stated.

He plans to enlist the help of other NBA players to do fundraisers and outreach into all communities for autism awareness.

According to Benzer, Congress passed a law allocating $1 billion for research; unfortunately, only $68 million was approved.

Although research is paramount, Benzer feels that action is needed now for the adults that need help managing their lives. In many instances, adults with autism end up in mental facilities and are treated incorrectly as mentally retarded.

Benzer’s foundation also plans to implement interactive training programs to help children, such as nature outings, sign language and other skill development programs. For more information contact Benzer’s office (702) 891-9621.
 
 
Pete Allman is a Las Vegas-based celebrity interviewer and media personality. E-mail him at peteonthescene@yahoo.com or phone (702) 265-9099.