Autism Speaks, the CDC, and the Advertising Council Launch New Program to Educate Teachers about the Importance of Early Intervention for Autism

Program focuses on helping educators speak to parents about child development issues

NEW YORK, September 24, 2008 – Autism Speaks, in partnership with the Ad Council, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today the launch of a new, groundbreaking educational tool kit, Talking to Parents About Autism, designed to promote early intervention and encourage educators to speak to a child's parents if they suspect a developmental delay. This is the first program to provide teachers with tools to prepare to begin this critical dialogue.

View a trailer for the

Talking to Parents About Autism Action Kit
YouTube Video ~ 3 minutes

 

The new kit includes a Talking to Parents About Autism training DVD that features information and advice about how educators can best broach the topic of a potential developmental delay. Also included in the tool kit is an Early Childhood Milestone Map , which can be printed and distributed to parents so that they can more easily track their child's progress against the typical, age-specific developmental milestones. The entire kit, available in both English and Spanish, is available at www.autismspeaks.org.

According to the CDC, autism is one of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). ASDs are developmental disabilities that cause substantial impairments in social interaction and communication and the presence of unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with ASDs also have unusual ways of learning, paying attention, and reacting to different sensations. The thinking and learning abilities of people with ASDs can vary—from gifted to severely challenged. An ASD begins before the age of 3 and lasts throughout a person's life. ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and are four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network released data in 2007 that found between 1 in 100 -and 1 in 300 with an average of 1 in 150 8-year-old children in multiple areas of the United States had an ASD.

Research has shown that early detection and intervention can make a significant difference in the life of a child with autism. In fact, with appropriate early intervention services, from ages 3-5, between 20% and 50% of children diagnosed with autism will be able to attend mainstream kindergarten. Educators, who interact with and observe children on a daily basis, are in the ideal position to know if a child's development seems delayed.
"It is critical that teachers feel comfortable approaching parents and speaking frankly about any concerns they have about their young students,” said Alison Singer, Executive Vice President of Autism Speaks. "This important new tool will facilitate those conversations and ensure that kids who may have a developmental delay get the services they need as early as possible."

"It's important for all those who interact with children, on a regular basis to talk with parents when they are concerned about a child's development. It may be a difficult conversation, but it could make an immeasurable difference for a child who needs services at an early age to reach their full potential," says Edwin Trevathan, M.D., MPH, CDC's Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The Ad Council and Autism Speaks initially launched an autism awareness campaign in 2006 in an effort to raise awareness about the developmental disorder and to urge parents to learn the signs of autism. The campaign has thus far generated more than $147 million in donated print, broadcast and online media and is credited with raising awareness of autism by more than 43%. The campaign was recently awarded a prestigious bronze Effie award as a testament to its success in building awareness.

“We are so pleased to continue our partnership with Autism Speaks on this critical issue,” said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of The Advertising Council. “I am confident that this program will help all the wonderful teachers in our schools initiate discussions with parents of children they suspect may have autism.”

Autism Speaks and the Ad Council are co-executive producers of the new DVD. JMH Education served as producer. Funding support was provided in part by the CDC's “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign (www.cdc.gov/actearly.com).

Click here to view the Talking to Parents about Autism kit.

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 and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks merged with the Autism Coalition for Research and Education (ACRE), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org

The Advertising Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

About "Learn the Signs. Act Early."
CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." campaign aims to help parents of young children learn more about early childhood development and warning signs of potential developmental problems. It encourages them to discuss concerns with their child's health care professional and encourages parents, health care professionals and early educators to take action quickly if a problem is suspected. The campaign also promotes developmental screening according to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).