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Autism Speaks Launches Autism Social Networking Site as Forum for Sharing Ideas, Experiences and Information

NEW YORK, NY (August 5, 2008) – Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced the launch of its new autism social networking site at http://autismspeaks.ning.com. The networking site will provide a new venue for members of the autism community to share insights, opinions and information.

Registration for the Autism Speaks social networking site is free. Members are able to create their own personalized profile, start a blog, join a number of new forums with a range of autism-related topics, and post photos and videos. They can also join a variety of user groups, such as groups for individuals with autism, parents, grandparents, educators and others.

“Social networking enables people with common interests and challenges to build communities,” said Kevin Berk, Autism Speaks Director of Interactive Services. “We encourage individuals with autism, caregivers, clinicians and anyone else with an interest in autism to explore Autism Speaks' social networking site. Our goal is to offer a vibrant destination for sharing ideas and forming meaningful connections that will benefit and enrich the entire autism community.”

The Autism Speaks social networking site is powered by Ning (www.ning.com), a programmable software platform that allows people to create customizable social networks. The network makes use of the platform's built-in features to mobilize around upcoming awareness activities and to showcase videos and photos from past events.

"We are honored that Autism Speaks has chosen Ning to create this very important social network for its community and beyond," said Gina Bianchini, CEO and co-founder, Ning. "We believe a social network is the best way for people to share, communicate, come together and raise 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 Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world's largest autism advocacy organization, 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. 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. For more information about autism and Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.