Autism Speaks Launches Transition Tool Kit, Providing Practical Information and Resources to Guide the Transition to Adulthood

NEW YORK, N.Y. (FEBRUARY 3, 2011) – In an effort to help families and their adolescents with autism more smoothly navigate the challenging transition into adulthood, Autism Speaks – North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization – today launched the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit, a unique guide and roadmap to help families on the journey from adolescence to adult life. The free Tool Kit, developed in conjunction with both parents and professionals, features a wealth of practical and actionable information, as well as links to valuable resources.

“The goal of the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is to empower families and their adolescents with autism to build a strong foundation for an independent and fulfilling adult life to the best of their ability,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks' vice president of Family Services. “The transition to adulthood can be a scary and complex process, which is why we sought to provide information from experts – both professional and parents – to create a roadmap and a set of practical tools that will hopefully make this experience as smooth and positive as possible.”

One of the guiding principles of the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is the need to develop self-advocacy skills for all individuals with autism. The kit identifies opportunities and resources to develop these skills with the goal of enabling the adolescent or young adult to participate to the greatest extent possible in their own transition plan. Other topics included in the kit are: Transition Planning and the IEP process, community life, employment, housing, post secondary educational opportunities and health. Tips about internet safety and dealing with issues surrounding sexuality are also featured. A timeline and other organizational tools provide suggested structure for the transition process.

Autism Speaks will offer the Transition Tool Kit free of charge. A standard version can be downloaded at Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit. Tool Kits customized by location are also available for families of adolescents and young adults and can be ordered by registering online. The Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is modeled after the popular and acclaimed Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families.

“The face of autism is changing with an entire generation of children on the spectrum making their way toward adulthood,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “While the transition process will be unique for each adolescent, we hope our Tool Kit will help families develop a successful transition plan that reflect the hopes and desires of their loved one living with autism.”

Autism Speaks would like to thank the following for their generous support of the Transition Tool Kit: Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Susan Logan Evensen and Peter Evensen, MassMutual Financial Group, NYSE Euronext Foundation, The Karma Foundation, and Jenny and Joe Zarrilli.

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. 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 North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research through 2014 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 $258 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 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 23 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 14 states. Each year Walk Now forAutism 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, Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, such as 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 numerous awards such as the first ever 'Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, NYU Child Advocacy Award, Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award. In May of 2010 they received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees from St. John's University in Queens and delivered the commencement address as the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor.