February was a fantastic month and much of what we worked on had to do with preparing for World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. Be sure to check out our Light It Up Blue site to see who is lighting it up blue this year… we promise there will be some incredible surprises!
Enjoy this month’s impact highlights!
Move the Needle
The science team led a meeting for our new Move the Needle Initiative
. The two-day conference brought together experts, clinicians, government officials, and stakeholders to develop a national agenda for lowering the age of autism diagnosis and improving access to early intervention services in all our communities, with a special focus on underserved populations. Geri reported back from the meeting on the science blog
We received several donations to supply iPads to financially disadvantaged families with a child with autism that would benefit from an iPad. We received almost 13,500 applications for the 180 iPads that we have to provide to families. We were able to have an Autism Speaks skin put on each of the iPads and we also worked with BrainParade and several developers
to provide promotional codes for free apps. The applications are under review by our volunteer reviewers and we expect to announce the recipients in the coming month.
Grants We announced the Family Services Targeted Grant Recipients last week. These represent the largest grants to date for Family Services and are part of a new initiative to identify and fund targeted areas of need for individuals with autism and their families.
The Government Relations team participated in a Capitol Hill briefing
to build Congressional support for a bill that would enable families to create tax-free savings accounts to cover the future needs of their children with autism. Known as the Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act
, the bill would be based on the existing 529 college savings program and would supplement, not replace, benefits provided through Medicaid, private insurance or employment. Autism Speaks is one of 49 national disability organizations supporting the bill, (HR.3423) which has attracted over 100 House sponsors
. Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), the original sponsor, and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), an original co-sponsor, spoke at the briefing.
We hosted a live webchat on ”My Child Has Autism? How Do I get Insurance
” with Lorri Unumb, Esq, vice president for state government affairs. The response was overwhelming with approximately 250 participants asking about autism insurance benefits in their states. Many of the questions focused on self-insured health plans which are regulated by the federal government and therefore fall outside Autism Speaks’ autism insurance reform campaigns in the states. The next webchat will be held in late April and will focus on the concerns of families with self-insured health plans.
Want to get more involved with Autism Speaks advocacy efforts? Sign up to become an advocate on www.autismvotes.org or text “AVotes” to 30644 to be added to our mobile alert list.
Awareness (and Fundraising!)
Light It Up Blue launches website and promotions!
Pledge your support to “Light It Up Blue” on the newly redesigned website
. Several corporate partners are kicking off promotions including; Toys “R” Us, Fashion Bugstores, Home Depot and many more.
Autism Speaks to Young Professionals
was a sold out event
raising over $33,000 and drawing over 250 guests.
Want to stay up to date on our awareness efforts? Visit the blog for the latest info… that page is also “RSS” enabled so you can add it to your newsreader!