Autism Speaks Names Toni Braxton Global Autism Ambassador

Grammy Award-Winning Singer-Songwriter, Star of “Braxton Family Values,” and Mother of a Child with Autism, Takes Her Advocacy Efforts to the United Nations

(NEW YORK, NY – April 4, 2012) – On April 3, Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, name Toni Braxton, six-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and star of WE’s Braxton Family Values, Autism Speaks Global Autism Ambassador. Ms. Braxton is the mother of two children, her youngest son Diezel was diagnosed with autism at age three. The appointment was announced by Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright at the organization’s United Nations event celebrating World Autism Awareness Day – “Delivering Answers through Inclusive International Collaboration” – moderated by ABC News Global Affairs Anchor Christiane Amanpour and featuring UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and US Ambassador Susan Rice.

“Through my work with Autism Speaks, I have found a community of fearless, dedicated families and autism experts that I respect and love very much.  I am in awe of the caregivers who fight every day to get their children the right autism related services and I am honored to be named Autism Speaks’ Global Autism Ambassador and to lend my voice and experience to help solve this global health crisis.”

Braxton was named Autism Speaks national celebrity spokesperson in 2007, saying that she “became determined to join Autism Speaks in its battle against this devastating disorder when autism became a part of my family’s reality.” Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright praised Braxton’s appointment stating, “We are so grateful to Toni for her tireless support of Autism Speaks. As a globally recognized and beloved performer, she is equally respected for her intelligence, wit, honesty and sense of humor she brings to the journey of raising her son Diezel, and her efforts will no doubt raise the profile of autism worldwide.”

Braxton’s role as Global Autism Ambassador will help enlighten the world and serve as a voice for thousands of parents struggling to cope with a disorder that, according to new figures released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, affect one in 88 children and one in 54 boys in the U.S.  Ms. Braxton joins Yoko Ono as Autism Speaks Global Autism Ambassadors.

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 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 1000 percent increase in the past 40 years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It 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. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $173 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.