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Autism Speaks to Play Key Roles at the 2010 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR)

Brings Together More Than 1800 Participants From Around the World to Discuss the Latest Findings on the Causes, Treatments and Diagnoses of Autism

NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 18, 2010) – Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, is a major sponsor and scientific participant in the 2010 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). Organized by the International Society of Autism Research, IMFAR brings together 1800 participants to hear from top scientists from around the world who will share their latest research into autism's causes, treatments and diagnoses. The conference is being held May 20-22 at the Philadelphia Marriott, 1201 Market Street.

“Autism is a worldwide challenge,” commented Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., “and this conference offers an opportunity to bring together researchers from around the world to share and collaborate, which helps accelerate research on diagnosis, causes and treatments needed by families in every country.” During the three-day meeting, Autism Speaks encourages the media to attend the below events. Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., will be available for interviews along with other scientists.

Wednesday, May 18
2:00 p.m. – IMFAR press conference. Scientists will discuss key studies to be presented during IMFAR including novel interventions for improving social skills children with autism that have been tested in general education classrooms; a study using an innovative brain imaging technique that sheds light on why toddlers with autism are delayed in developing; prenatal risk factors for autism; and the efficacy of the gluten free/casein free diet that many parents use with their children with autism spectrum disorders, hoping that it will improve symptoms. Dr. Dawson is available to provide comments on the importance and impact of these research efforts to the autism community represented by Autism Speaks.

Thursday, May 19
1:30 p.m. – Ethics of Communicating Scientific Findings of Autism Risk Panel, Dr. Dawson will be presenting. The session will report on the challenges and ethics of communicating to parents and others members of the general public the complex findings related to genetic and environmental risk factors. Among the topics to be discussed are the role of advocacy organizations, how scientific findings are outpacing clinical guidelines, and the use of the internet for communicating information to families.

Friday, May 20
10:30 a.m. – Autism Speaks' Innovative Technology for Autism (ITA) initiative will illustrate how novel applications of technology can be used to improve the lives of individuals with ASD, including innovative communication devices and techniques for promoting social interaction. Local area families have been invited to participate in this session to test the technology.

11:30 a.m. – Luncheon for families co-hosted by Autism Speaks and the INSAR Diversity Committee. This gathering is intended to make IMFAR more approachable for everyone, including families affected by autism.

3:45 p.m.Very Early Intervention for ASD: Research Challenges & Promising Results, Studies exploring both behavioral and pharmacological interventions for very young children with ASD will be discussed. Dr. Dawson will participate in the panel discussion sharing information on the Early Start Denver Model, a new and proven strategy in providing treatment to toddlers. She will be discussing new research on factors that help predict which children will be most responsive to very early interventions.

7:00 p.m. – Autism Speaks and the INSAR Diversity Committee will co-host a dinner and meeting. The purpose of the event is to facilitate interactions and networking between the INSAR board/committee members with international researchers, especially those from low and middle income countries. The dinner will be followed by presentations on screening and diagnostic instruments adaptation and the development of more efficient tools for research and clinical care that can be used in countries with low resources. This event is not open to press, however interviews may be scheduled with Autism Speaks leadership and with involved international attendees.

Saturday, May 21
9:45 a.m.Medical Care of Children and Adolescents with ASD: Findings from the Autism Treatment Network. Autism Speaks Vice President of Clinical Programs Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D. will chair this meeting to present findings from this Autism Speaks-funded network of 14 sites across the U.S. and Canada. This session will present new findings regarding the prevalence of GI, sleep, psychiatric, and other medical conditions associated with ASD as well as the wide range of treatment methods that are being used by parents to help address these conditions.

REGISTRATION and NOTES
· Media can register via http://www.autism-insar.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=191&Itemid=167
· Meeting highlights are embargoed until 4:00 pm Wednesday May 19, 2010
· Autism Speaks will arrange requested telephone interviews prior to the IMFAR meeting and in-person interviews during the conference with space for one-on-one interviews, if desired.
· All abstracts will be posted on the IMFAR website

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 the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 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 also supports the Autism Treatment Network, 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 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $210 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. 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, 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 serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is also 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 Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.