Royal Arch Masons Present Autism Speaks with $100,000 Royal Arch Research Assistance Grant

Funding Supports Expansion of Autism Speaks Early Diagnosis and Intervention Initiative
NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 16, 2011) -- On Thursday, November 10, the General Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International presented Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism research and advocacy organization, with a $100,000 Royal Arch Research Assistance (RARA) grant in support of the Autism Speaks early diagnosis and early intervention initiative to investigate auditory processing disorders in children with autism.

Many of the precursor symptoms of auditory processing disorders are seen in some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These symptoms include trouble paying attention and remembering information; poor listening skills; difficulty in processing information; behavioral problems; difficulty with comprehending language; and anxiety or confusion in social situations. Young children on the autism spectrum who exhibit precursor symptoms may be diagnosed with a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) at a later age.   

The RARA grant will enable Autism Speaks to address precursor symptoms of auditory processing disorders in an effort to create better outcomes for children who are at risk for developing both ASD and CAPD. In addition, the grant will go towards funding Autism Speaks’ efforts to educate healthcare providers and parents about the role of auditory processing disorders in a child’s autism diagnosis as well as encourage further evaluation for young children who demonstrate auditory processing difficulty

“Children who show early signs of autism spectrum disorders are at risk for a number of developmental problems,” noted Dr. Geri Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks. “With the help of this grant, clinicians can better understand the early signs of auditory processing disorder in children with autism, allowing for treatment of this disorder to begin as early as possible.”

Autism Speaks will also disseminate and share information developed in this effort with caregivers and clinicians including methods to treat auditory processing problems associated with ASD. 

“The Royal Arch Masons have been supporting central auditory processing disorder research for over 30 years through the Royal Arch Research Assistance grants and we are delighted to partner with Autism Speaks in this venture,” said Royal Arch Mason General Grand High Priest, Most Excellent Edmund D. Harrison. “The Royal Arch Mason’s forward look forward to participating in events around the country sponsored by Autism Speaks and assisting in their fundraising efforts to assist families affecting by autism.”

The grant will build on the work of Autism Speaks Toddler Treatment Network, a consortium of eight research sites established in 2006 to determine the efficacy of intervention earlier than 18 months of age. Its focus is on clinical research to establish best practices and actively train clinicians and caregivers in treatment techniques appropriate for toddlers. The primary beneficiaries of the Toddler Treatment Network are young children under age three with ASD or at risk for developing ASD, as well as their parents and primary caregivers.  

The General Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons was organized in 1797 and represents nearly 150,000 Royal Arch Masons around the world. 

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 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

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 $160 million to research 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 $300 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, a Grandparent’s Guide to Autism, 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 29 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional ten states. 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 and Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the board of directors of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, EMI Group Global Ltd., and AMC Networks Inc., and is a Trustee of the New York Presbyterian hospital.  Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, 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 the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the NYU Child Advocacy Award, the Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and the American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award.  In the past couple of years the Wrights have received honorary doctorate degrees from St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University and UMass Medical School.