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Autism Speaks Joins Florida State University and First Signs in Launching the Treatment Section of Online Video Glossary

New Feature Allows Parents to View Examples of Different Treatment Options

NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 5, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, together with First Signs, a leader in educating parents and professionals about the early signs of autism and related disorders, and Florida State University’s Autism Institute today announced the launch of a new treatment section of its acclaimed online Autism Video Glossary, giving parents an important new tool as they work to determine the best treatment options for their child.

The new treatment section expands the Video Glossary’s library with the inclusion of more than 100 video clips from actual therapy sessions illustrating 22 treatments that may be used to help children with autism build skills, connect with peers and family members, and reduce challenging behaviors. It offers families a window into the various treatment options, provides a description of each method, and lists the top five research studies supporting the treatment and where to find more information. Professionals will also find the treatment section useful when working with a family to determine the best course of treatment for a child with autism. 

“The Autism Video Glossary has proven to be an exceptional tool that educates parents and professionals alike about some of the key characteristics of autism and its associated behaviors,” said Lisa Goring vice president of Family Services at Autism Speaks. “In addition to expanding upon this comprehensive library, the new treatment section provides insight into a variety of options available to families who are struggling to find effective treatments for their child with autism.”

The glossary is a free web-based tool designed to help parents and professionals learn more about the signs, diagnostic features, and terminology associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It contains more than 100 video clips that illustrate the subtle differences in behaviors that are typical in contrast with those that are red flags for ASD. Sections include an overview of ASD, social interaction, communication, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, and regulatory and sensory systems. 

The treatment section consists of five categories: behavioral interventions, developmental interventions, structured teaching and supports, clinical therapies, and toddler treatment models. Each category covers three to six treatments used commonly with children on the autism spectrum, and contains detailed information about those treatments, including whether training is required, measures for determining if treatments are working, and resources for more information. A link to the online Glossary of Terms is provided throughout the Autism Video Glossary to help educate parents and professionals about the terminology used in the clips or captions.  

“One of the most challenging tasks for any family with a child on the autism spectrum is finding the right treatments and resources,” said Nancy D. Wiseman, founder and president of First Signs. “The new treatment clips will allow families to compare treatments and get a feel for what might be right for their child.”

“While there are no conclusive studies showing that one approach is better than another, some approaches, such as applied behavior analysis, have been researched more than others and many approaches incorporate similar intervention strategies,” said Amy M. Wetherby, PhD, distinguished research professor and director of theAutism Institute at Florida State University. “Viewing the treatments in action will help parents and professionals see a range of intervention strategies and choose treatment strategies that best fit the needs of the child and family.”  

About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis. 

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks’ award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $300 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a Grandparent’s Guide to Autism, and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 29 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 10 states including New York. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks 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 Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric, and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the board of directors of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, EMI Group Global Ltd., and AMC Networks Inc., and is a Trustee of the New York Presbyterian hospital.  Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, the CHILD Magazine Children’s Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women’s Division, and The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy.  They have also received the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the NYU Child Advocacy Award, the Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award, and the American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award.  In the past couple of years the Wrights have received honorary doctorate degrees from St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University, and UMass Medical School.

About First Signs
First Signs, Inc. is a national non-profit organization dedicated to educating parents and professionals about the early signs of autism and related disorders. It was founded in 1999 by Nancy D. Wiseman, former marketing executive, parent of a child with autism, and author of Could It Be Autism? A Parent’s Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps and THE FIRST YEAR: Autism Spectrum Disorders. First Signs provides professionals with tools and training and parents with education and support to help young children stay on a healthy developmental path. To learn more about First Signs, please visit www.firstsigns.org.

About the Florida State University Autism Institute
The Autism Institute in the College of Medicine at Florida State University (FSU) was established to promote interdisciplinary research to advance scientific knowledge of ASD, bridge the research-to-practice gap, and maximize the use of innovative technology to build the capacity of communities and families to improve outcomes of individuals with ASD. Dr. Amy M. Wetherby serves as Director and is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at FSU. Two research projects in the FSU Autism Institute have contributed to the content and development of the ASD Video Glossary. The FIRST WORDS®Projectis a prospective, longitudinal research investigation designed to identify early red flags of autism from video of children screened under 24 months of age who are later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. As Principal Investigator, Dr. Wetherby has received funding from the US Department of Education, National Institutes of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research findings will have important implications for improving early screening and identification. The Early Social Interaction Project(ESI) is a multisite toddler treatment study in the FSU Autism Institute funded by the US Department of Education, Autism Speaks, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Amy Wetherby and Dr. Catherine Lord, Director of the Institute of Brain Development in New York, are Co-Principal Investigators of an ongoing randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of teaching parents of 100 toddlers with ASD how to support social communication, emotional regulation, and play in everyday activities beginning at 18 months of age using the ESI model. The findings of this study will provide important evidence of the effectiveness of a community-based intervention implemented by parents of toddlers with ASD and will substantiate the importance of autism screening for toddlers so families can access early intervention.