Autism Spectrum Disorders are on the rise. According to a recent report from the CDC, one in 88 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is partly related to an increased understanding of the symptoms of ASD and diagnosis at earlier ages. April is National Autism Awareness Month and we are trying to do our part in providing education and raising awareness of this important cause.
Autism Speaks is an organization dedicated to changing the lives of those impacted by ASD. Founded in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with Autism, Autism Speaks has grown into the nation’s largest Autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for Autism. Autism Speaks is also instrumental in advocating for the needs of individuals with Autism and their families.
Resources For Families
- The Autism Response Team (ART): a group of Autism Speaks representatives who are specially trained to connect families with information, resources and opportunities. For more information call 888-288-4762.
- Online Tool Kits: Free resources and guides to help caregivers and educators manage common struggles for a child with Autism, including getting a haircut, going to the doctor, transitions and sleeping.
- Family Services Resource Guide: a comprehensive reference list of service providers and community resources across the nation
- Research Participation: Many opportunities are available for families to participate in autism research. You can join a clinical trial, enroll in a research study, contribute to our rich genetic database or participate online by adding your family information to a research database.
A Message from the Founders:
“It’s hard to believe that six years have passed since we founded Autism Speaks. What began as idea to give a voice to the millions of disenfranchised families around the nation, has materialized as the largest autism advocacy organization in the world. We are incredibly proud of what Autism Speaks has accomplished in such a short span of time, and we could not have done it without the initial support of our long time friend Bernie Marcus and his $25 million dollar donation. Bernie’s contribution helped launch Autism Speaks.
Since 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides – the Combating Autism Act (CAA) signed by President Bush in 2006, plus President Obama’s autism stimulus grant has produced over $1 billion for medical and scientific study. In addition, Autism Speaks alone has committed over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. Our organization continues to fund research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; we are committed to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and we will advocate for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
In addition to putting money into new and cutting edge research, we also fund resources and programs such as the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include our Light it Up Blue project. In 2011 over 1800 structures in over 180 cities in 35 countries lit up blue for autism – most notably – Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and the Empire State Building in New York City. Autism Speaks’ award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $258 million in donated media since its inception and our latest spot, Closer to Home, began airing nationally in 2010. Early surveys indicate that awareness continues to increase and we anticipate that the new spot will result in a significant uptick in general awareness. Among our family resources launched in 2010 were an updated version of the 100 Day Kit, the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit and a Dental Tool Kit to promote good oral health and guide dentists in making a visit more comfortable for those on the autism spectrum. Out in the field our 80 Walk Now for Autism Speaks events across North America rallies over 400,000 folks in support of our mission.
The battle for autism insurance reform still rages and Autism Speaks continues to fight. Over the past few years our Government Relations Team has played a vital role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism. We have successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 25 states thus far, accounting for more than 50% of the population. Undoubtedly, this is one of our greatest achievements. As we move forward, Autism Speaks will not lessen the pressure we apply on our legislators until every state has an autism insurance law in place.
At a time when 1 in 88 American children, including 1 in 54 boys is now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, it is our responsibility to ensure previous commitments to our families, such as the CAA and the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA), which serves as the CAA extension, are upheld.
We created this organization because of our grandson Christian and for the millions of children in the world just like him. Everyday they serve as our inspiration as we continue on our journey to find the missing pieces of the autism puzzle. Thank you for joining us in this pursuit.”