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Calls to Action

May 2012

On May 1, Autism Speaks Co-Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright appeared on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams for an interview about the Theatre Development Fund’s highly successful Autism Theatre Initiative to make theatre accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families. Since the program’s launch in October 2011, special autism-friendly performances of The Lion King and Mary Poppins have been staged on Broadway.

The Congressional Autism Caucus hosted a Capitol Hill briefing on the recently announced increase in the prevalence of autism and a related study showing how the costs to society and individual families for autism care have soared. The briefing was conducted as Congress weighed budget measures that could cripple the ability of the federal government to continue tracking the growth in autism.

On May 2, YouTube sensation Ethan Walmark was featured alongside his parents, Allison and Michael, during the 8:00 a.m. hour of the Today Show. Ethan, 6, was diagnosed with autism four years ago. A recently posted video of him performing Billy Joel's "Piano Man" has rapidly gone viral on the internet, earning Ethan praise from Joel himself.

This is a guest blog post from Marc Sirkin, Autism Speaks VP Social Marketing and Online Fundraising.

I first found out about David Chesney's software engineering class at dinner with Donald Brinkman from Microsoft. We were talking about different ways technology is impacting autism, and introduced us via e-mail. I was intrigued by the idea of students spending an entire semester, hacking and developing games for autism therapies using Microsoft Kinect devices. As a geek, this was just too good to be true!