New England Chapter of Autism Speaks to Donate iPads for the Holidays

BOSTON, MA, November 26, 2013 – Today, Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, distributed three ipads to organizations who serve the needs of adults on the autism spectrum.  This holiday season, the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks will distribute a total of 19 iPads donated by the Celgene Corporation to organizations dedicated to autistic adults. 

The first three organizations to benefit were the Cardinal Cushing Centers, CLASS and Aspiritech, each of whom participated in the recent Autism Speaks Small Business Town Hall Boston event, which focused on employment opportunities for adults with autism. 

 “With these donated iPads, we are supporting important service providers who are on the frontlines of addressing the underserved adult segment within our autism community,” said Russ Kenn, Executive Director of the New England Chapter. “In this holiday season of giving, it is also a tangible way to support adults on the spectrum, and allows our chapter to showcase the gifts inside people with autism, helping them reach their full potential.”

The goal at Autism Speaks is to provide individuals with autism and their families with all the tools they need throughout the lifespan.  Adults living with autism often have difficulty finding information about programs and supports that would allow them to live as independently as possible. Therefore, Autism Speaks’ Adult Services initiatives focus on resources that impact all facets of adult life including employment, housing, community life and post-secondary education.

Cardinal Cushing Centers now serve over 400 individuals of all ages, with the goal of helping each student and adult to become included and independent members of society.  “Our new iPad will make a wonderful addition to our on-campus job training program,” said Michelle Markowitz, Vice President of Admissions for Cardinal Cushing Centers. “We are so appreciative of this gift from Autism Speaks, which will help our students to more comfortably interact with customers at our Timeless Treasures Thrift Store.”

"We're extremely fortunate to have won this iPad at such a critical juncture for CLASS, which is growing and becoming increasingly collaborative with partners in our community," said CLASS President Bob Harris. "The iPad, with its capabilities of photography and video, will help CLASS further its plan for social media to promote visibility of the agency, as well as help us coordinate our strategic plan activities. We thank everyone at Autism Speaks for this wonderful gift and for inviting us to the terrific Town Hall meeting earlier this month, where we met new and valuable friends."  Through direct support in day habilitation, employment services, community-based day supports, specialized employment services, and career services, CLASS assists individuals with disabilities with meaningful activities to experience a fuller, more independent life. 

Aspiritech is a non-profit organization that provides world class software testing, quality assurance and related support services.  We utilize the special skills and strengths of high functioning autistic individuals that are directly applicable to these service areas.   “We make great use of devices such as iPads to perform our work for our clients, said Chet Hurwitz, Board Member at Aspiritech.  “We are truly grateful to be the recipient of an iPad from Autism Speaks as it will help us serve more clients and ultimately provide more work for our test engineers.”

The Small Business Town Hall held earlier this month featured a panel of five speakers who shared stories of their success as the owners of small businesses that employ individuals with autism. Members of the audience engaged in a dynamic Q&A discussion with the panelists, asking questions about how their businesses got started, how they balance their social missions with their business operations, and what obstacles they have faced along the way.  The presentations were inspirational and informative, focusing on the strengths and abilities of individuals with autism.

In addition to the remaining 16 iPads, Autism Speaks will announce the recipients of New England Chapter grants totaling $25,000 in December.  For more information about the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org or contact Kelley Borer-Miller, Senior Director, Field Development at Boston 617-726-1515, greaterboston@autismspeaks.org.

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 one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis. In schools across America, one in four school children now has autism.

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 $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in over 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries to foster international research, services and awareness.  To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

About Aspiritech
Aspiritech is a non-profit organization that provides world class software testing, quality assurance and related support services.  We utilize the special skills and strengths of high functioning autistic individuals that are directly applicable to these service areas.  Aspiritech has delivered exceptional results in a cost-effective manner for a growing number of clients.  We have been fortunate to receive funding from foundations such as Autism Speaks and the Coleman Foundation, multiple individual donors, and revenue from our satisfied clients.  In addition to the performance of a valuable commercial service, we provide a meaningful career track for our employees while mitigating the social cost of supporting this growing segment of the population.  To this end, we seek to address the very high under or unemployment levels for adults with autism or related disorders once they outgrow a range of public support and educational options.   Our mission is to provide a rewarding work experience for these individuals once they reach adulthood.  We are searching for ways to provide this opportunity to more people, expand the geographic footprint to other strategic locations, and enhance our visibility in the business community from which our client revenue is derived. 

For more information about Aspiritech, visit: www.aspiritech.org.

About Cardinal Cushing Centers
A 501(c)(3) organization, Cardinal Cushing Centers, Inc. is an intergenerational village founded in Hanover, MA in 1947. Cushing Centers began as a day and residential school for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. With a second campus located in Braintree, Cushing now serves over 400 individuals of all ages, with the goal of helping each student and adult to become included and independent members of society. Programs include, among others, affordable housing, community programs, education, employment training both on and off campus, recreational and residential services.  Cardinal Cushing Centers is a place where people of all ages and abilities find possibility, opportunity, and hope.  For more information about Cardinal Cushing Centers, visit: www.cushingcenters.org.

About CLASS
CLASS, headquartered in Lawrence for more than 37 years, with offices in North Reading and North Andover, supports people with disabilities and their families with services, programs and employment development. The CLASS mission is to support, promote, and facilitate the inherent rights of individuals with disabilities to experience a life of opportunity for personal growth and active, meaningful engagement in their community. Through direct support in day habilitation, employment services, community-based day supports, specialized employment services, career services and Adult Family / Foster Care, CLASS assists individuals with disabilities with meaningful activities to experience a fuller, more independent life.  For more information about CLASS, visit: www.classinc.org.