April is World Autism Month and we’re using the last Feel Good Friday in April to talk about the work being done by Autism Speaks.
Founded in 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the vision of Autism Speaks is “a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential.” The work done by this organization involves advocacy, services, support, research and innovation, and advances in care for autistic individuals and their families.
Before we talk more about the work, let’s review definitions from the website. “Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.” According to data from the CDC, approximately 1 in 36 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
With 13 local offices around the United States, the mission of Autism Speaks has five objectives:
- Increasing global understanding and acceptance of people with autism
- Being a catalyst for life-enhancing research breakthroughs
- Increasing early childhood screening and timely interventions
- Improving the transition to adulthood
- Ensuring access to reliable information and services throughout the life span
Practically speaking, that means grant funding for research, service providers and individuals and families in financial need; a caregiver skills training program for both parents and professionals; and toolkits, information and resources that you can search for by topic or life stage. People can also contact the specially trained Autism Response Team with specific questions and to get referrals to additional tools, resources and services.
The impact of the work being done by Autism Speaks can be found in their 2022 Annual Report. Highlights include over $1.6 million in funding to next generation autism science leaders and $240,000 in local grants to 54 community providers across 28 states; connecting with over 87,000 people by phone, email and chat to provide information and resources; conducting monthly trainings for 425+ Advocacy Ambassadors on how to advocate for and share resources in their communities; and aiding more than 1.6 million people through funded services, resources and direct support.
If you’re inspired by the work of Autism Speaks, there are many ways you can help them achieve their vision. Register for a fundraising walk, join the grassroots advocacy network, shop for merch, make a donation, and spread the word by sharing their work on social media. Follow Autism Speaks on Facebook, on Twitter @autismspeaks and Instagram @autismspeaks.
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