Autism Speaks Announces Autism Awareness Month Initiatives and Special Events

Highlights Include Launch of Second Phase of Ad Council Campaign, Fundraiser Headlined by Bill Cosby, New Video Glossary for Parents

NEW YORK (March 8, 2007) - Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research, today announced a series of national initiatives and special events that will be the focus of its efforts during National Autism Awareness Month in April, from the launch of a new public service advertising campaign to partnerships with some of the nation's largest retailers.


Awareness Initiatives:

  • April will mark the launch of the second phase of Autism Speaks' successful public service advertising (PSA) campaign, produced in conjunction with the Ad Council and the Centers for Disease Control, and created pro bono by BBDO Worldwide. The first round of ads garnered over $30 million in donated advertising in only six months, twice the Ad Council average. The new ads – which will appear on television and radio, in print and online beginning in April – will build on the original theme that autism is more common than most people think and will urge all parents to learn the signs of autism. Click here for the "Learn the Signs" page.
  • Autism Speaks and Regal Entertainment Group are joining forces to spread awareness about autism. Regal Entertainment Group will run a thirty-second Autism Speaks-Ad Council PSA before every film shown on all 6,386 of its nationwide screens from April 6-12. Read more.
  • Autism Every Day, the powerful documentary produced by Autism Speaks that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, has been accepted for screening by the 31st annual Atlanta Film Festival, which will take place April 19-28 and the Newport Beach Film Festival, which runs from April 19-29. Screening dates are currently being finalized. Click here for more on Autism Every Day.
  • As part of a special editorial partnership, Parenting and BabyTalk magazines will feature editorial coverage of autism in their May issues, hitting newsstands in April, including information about Autism Speaks and its national walk program.
  • The Hy-Vee supermarket chain will feature the Autism Speaks logo and URL on 2.6 million of its shopping bags in all of its Iowa stores and selected stores in neighboring states during April.

Events:

  • Legendary entertainer Bill Cosby and six-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Toni Braxton will headline A Concert for Autism Speaks on April 9 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Braxton was recently named a national celebrity spokesperson for Autism Speaks. Proceeds from A Concert for Autism Speaks will go toward examining potential environmental causes of autism as well as research on treatments for autism. NBC News' Tom Brokaw will serve as the master of ceremonies for the special evening. Tickets are available through the Jazz at Lincoln Center box office, 212-721-6500, or online by clicking here, at the $100, $75 and $50 levels. For gala and VIP ticket packages, which include a reception, please call 212-245-6570, extension 12. Click here for more on A Concert for Autism Speaks.
  • Toys “R” Us and the Toys “R” Us Children's Fund proudly serve as the national sponsor of the Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism program, and several Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism events will take place during Autism Awareness Month. April walks include: Allentown, PA (April 14), Cumberland, MD (April 14), Nebraska (April 15), Broward County, FL (April 21) and Los Angeles, CA (April 28). For a complete list of Walk events, please visit www.autismwalk.org. For more on Toys "R" us, click here.
  • On April 22, join Autism Speaks and other members of the autism community for “Autism Awareness Day at Shea” as the New York Mets take on the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. Bring your family and friends and enjoy an exclusive tent party, private outfield seating, and a chance to stand on the field with the Mets for pre-game ceremonies. For more information please visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/sponsoredevents

Family Services:
 

  • National Autism Services Database: Autism Speaks Family Services Committee is developing an online nationwide comprehensive resource database, providing individuals and families with local resources that service a variety of needs from early intervention through adult care. This inclusive database, which will debut at www.autismspeaks.org in April, will provide users with information such as health care facilities, educational services, legal entitlements, recreational and community activities, and adult support services. According to Brian Kelly, chair of the Family Services Committee, "Our resource database is an ongoing initiative to provide current resources for individuals and families affected by autism. It's crucial that these resources are inclusive of all age ranges; from the initial diagnosis through adulthood, so that we can continually support the needs of individuals and families affected by this disorder." Click here for more.
  • Autism Video Glossary: Together with First Signs, the leader in early identification and intervention of children with developmental delays and disorders, and Florida State University, Autism Speaks has collaborated to build a web-based video glossary to help parents learn more about the early warning signs of autism. The glossary will contain more than 125 video clips illustrating terms commonly associated with autism. The glossary will be available to the public free of charge at www.autismspeaks.org, www.firstsigns.org, and http://firstwords.fsu.edu.


National Partnerships
Autism Speaks is teaming up with several leading national retailers to raise awareness – and funds – during April.

  • In addition to its role as the national sponsor of the Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism program, Toys “R” Us will conduct a seven-week, in-store fundraising campaign in all of its 586 locations nationwide. From Sunday, March 18 through Friday, May 4, the company will carry out an aggressive marketing program to engage customers and employees in an effort to raise funds to benefit Autism Speaks' research endeavors. Additionally, online shoppers will be able to make cash contributions by visiting www.Toysrus.com/autismspeaks. To launch the partnership, the Toys “R” Us Children's Fund provided Autism Speaks with a $250,000 grant.
  • Build-a-Bear and Autism Speaks are teaming up for the third year in a row to raise funds for autism research and awareness. During the month of April, the sale of purple satin hearts ($1) will benefit Autism Speaks. Stores will also offer customers printed information about autism
  • Building on last year's successful campaign, Autism Speaks and retailer TJ Maxx will partner once again this April on a month-long fundraising and awareness program. From April 8 through April 28 at 800 TJ Maxx stores nationwide, customers will be invited to purchase an Autism Speaks puzzle piece at checkout for a donation of $1. No purchase is necessary to make a donation, and all proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks.
  • Autism Speaks has also partnered with The Bachman Company to bring the message of autism awareness to thousands of homes in the Northeast. Now through April, nearly 1 million special bags of Bachman's Thin ‘n Right® Pretzels, Jax® Cheese Curls, Chipitos® Tortilla Chips and their popular Tray Pack Pretzel Stix will feature Autism Speaks stickers with facts about prevalence of autism. The stickers also list Autism Speaks' website as a resource for parents to learn the early signs of autism. Read more.
  • Modell's Sporting Goods stores will launch a four-week "Dollar Donation Days" promotion on Sunday, April 1 to benefit Autism Speaks. Through April 28, customers at all of Modell's 128 store locations throughout the Northeast will be able to purchase one-dollar Autism Speaks puzzle pieces at check-out, with all proceeds being directed towards autism research. This is the third “Dollar Donation Days” campaign to benefit autism research.
  • Award-winning jewelry designer Judith Ripka has designed a sterling silver and 18-karat gold Autism Speaks puzzle piece autism awareness bracelet that will be available for purchase in the Autism Speaks online store and in Judith Ripka retail stores across the country beginning April 15. The retail price will be $199, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks.

ABOUT AUTISM
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Chairman and CEO of NBC Universal and Vice Chairman, General Electric. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.