One Year After Hurricane Katrina's Devastating Impact, AutismCares Again Invites Families of Children with Autism to Register and Get Connected

Consortium of Autism Organizations Provided Critical Assistance to More Than 150 Families and Raised Over $130,000 for Those Impacted by 2005's Worst Hurricanes

(BOISE, IDAHO -- August 29, 2006) – AutismCares, a consortium of leading autism organizations created to spearhead a national emergency relief and recovery initiative in the wake of last year's devastating hurricanes, is again inviting all families with a member diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to pre-register through AutismCares' Web site, http://www.autismcares.org/, to ensure trained case managers are able to locate them more effectively in case disaster strikes their families. Registered families can more readily receive an array of emergency services as soon as storms pass through their impacted areas. More than 480 families have already been registered on the AutismCares database.

The AutismCares initiative was created in September 2005 in response to the devastating impact of Gulf Coast hurricanes to coordinate support for the unique needs of thousands of families affected by autism. Children with autism often require intensive biomedical and behavioral therapies and thoroughly planned routines. AutismCares created a network to support families whose struggle with autism was intensified by natural disaster, forced relocation and scarce resources. An estimated 53,000 families with children who have autism were affected by the three worst hurricanes in the history of the United States.

Through its partner organizations, AutismCares has raised more than $130,000 with funds going toward supplies, housing and support case managers who work to coordinate assistance for affected families. This relief and recovery program, managed with oversight by Boise State University Center of Health Policy, created an in pouring of funds and in-kind donation offers from across the country. The organization has directly assisted more than 150 severely impacted families with shelter, food and counseling support, while hundreds more have been supported in other ways.

AutismCares has facilitated temporary/permanent relocation support, mobilized specialty assistance teams and provided autism-conscious supplies directly to affected families and the professionals caring for them. To address long-term needs, AutismCares advocated and implemented proactive rehabilitation and assistance programs in coordination with officials from other relief agencies to help families rebuild their lives.

“While all of us hope that our services won't be required this year, we nevertheless urge families to think proactively and take advantage of this opportunity to register in advance of any potential emergencies,” said Ron Oberleitner, a member of AutismCares executive committee. “By registering now, families can help us deliver services to them much faster and more efficiently, should the need arise.”

About AutismCares
AutismCares is a consortium of Autism Speaks, Boise State University, Cure Autism Now, First Signs, Princeton Autism Technology, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, TalkAutism, The Help Group and Unlocking Autism, and is supported by many other autism organizations.

Visit http://www.autismcares.org/ for additional information about:

  • The AutismCares 2005 Gulf Regions Hurricane initiative
  • Current newsroom information
  • Aid coordination for families living with autism
  • Access to AutismCares' online ‘disaster registry' 

The legal account of AutismCares has resided with the Boise State University Foundation – c/o Center for Health Policy. BSU Center for Health Policy has provided fiscal oversight, as well as resources to ensure expedient and compliant public health policy and support.

About Autism
Autism is one of the fastest-growing and most prevalent childhood developmental disorders in the United States, affecting as many as one in every 166 births (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Autism is a neurological disorder that interferes with normal development in language, intuitive thought, social interaction and an ability to connect with surroundings. Approximately half of all children with autism are unable to communicate their needs using spoken words. Most are unable to accommodate changes in their daily routines. Associated problems include hyperactivity, self-injurious behavior, sleeplessness, eating disorders and gastrointestinal problems. Order and consistently administered therapeutic interventions are critical to the affected child and family's well being.