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The Month in Review – Autism Speaks February 2012 Impact

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!
 

Science

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.
 
Autism Treatment Network The Autism Treatment Network released two new tool kits this month – A Sleep Strategies Guide and A Tool Kit for Dental Professionals – and LIVE Chat was held and hosted by Dr. Beth Ann Malow who answered the community’s sleep questions; you can see the entire transcript.
 
Want to dig into Autism Speaks science even further? Visit the science section of our website, and read the latest blog posts from the science department.
 

Family Services

iPad giveaway 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.

Stay up to date with the latest from Family Services in a variety of ways! Subscribe to our monthly “community connections” newsletter, Bookmark the Family Services page on our website or read Family Services related blog posts.
 

Advocacy

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.
 
WEBCHATS 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!