Autism Speaks Announces Multinational Initiative to Raise Awareness and to Provide Standardized Professional Training for Research, Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism

NEW YORK, NY May 9, 2008 – Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism advocacy organization announces today the formation of an international collaboration with North, South and Central America. This multinational initiative will help to raise awareness and develop research expertise focusing on public health and screening for early diagnosis and enhanced service delivery across the Americas.

“We believe it is important to form partnerships with countries that have different cultures, levels of expertise, and existing services,” said Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer, Geri Dawson, Ph.D. “The Pan American autism research and services training initiative is an important step toward providing better services for all children affected by autism and their families”

According to Carso Health Institute, this initiative's first purpose will provide the much-needed awareness to health professionals and families as well as support for early detection and training programs. This will ultimately enhance the quality of research and services in Latin America and the Caribbean. The newly trained service providers will then be able to deliver immediate benefits to the communities they serve with a special focus on children affected by autism and their families.

“Evidence of effectiveness is critical in development of treatments for autism. For instance, behavioral intervention using applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been shown to benefit a significant number of affected individuals,” said Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Director, Dr. Duane Alexander. “Having well trained investigators is crucial for appropriate research on treatment of this disorder. We are pleased to collaborate to ensure the best research and research training on autism.”

“Health research on autism in Canada has become a priority in the last decade as it has in other countries. We have recognized that today's researchers and the next generation need the necessary tools at their disposal to better diagnose and treat this complex brain disorder,” said Dr. Rémi Quirion, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. “An international public-private partnership will leverage expertise and resources to better coordinate research on autism with a common goal of improving diagnosis and treatment across the Americas.”

Autism must be diagnosed by trained professionals using standardized behavioral instruments. Through this multinational partnership, representatives will explore the best possible models and mechanisms for maximizing both the social and scientific impact on this initiative and provide specific training to professional service providers for continuity of care. Representatives from this initiative will host the first workshop in June 2008 with a focus on awareness.

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 CARSO HEALTH INSTITUTE
The Carso Health Institute is a non-for-profit organization based in Mexico City that mobilizes private resources to finance projects of social interest in the areas of health, nutrition and the environment. The aim of the Institute is to contribute to the solution of the health problems that affect the Latin American region through the identification and prioritization of the problems; the design of initiatives and mechanisms to address them; the identification of partners to coordinate and execute these initiatives; the training, technical assistance and monitoring of the parties involved; and the evaluation of the results. http://www.salud.carso.org

ABOUT INSTITUTE OF NEUROSCIENCES, MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION
The Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction will support research to enhance mental health, neurological health, vision, hearing, and cognitive functioning and to reduce the burden of related disorders through prevention strategies, screening, diagnosis, treatment, support systems, and palliation. Associated research will advance our understanding of human thought, emotion, behavior, sensation, perception, learning and memory.

ABOUT CANADIAN INSTITUTES OF HEALTH RESEARCH
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 11,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada. www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca

ABOUT THE EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
The NICHD was initially established to investigate the broad aspects of human development as a means of understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities and events that occur during pregnancy. Today, the Institute conducts and supports research on all stages of human development, from preconception to adulthood, to better understand the health of children, adults, families, and communities. The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute's Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH)
The Nation's Medical Research Agency includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.