New York, N.Y. (April 23, 2014) – Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, today announced a screening of the Blockburger Productions documentary, Sounding the Alarm, during the 2014 Tribeca Family Festival. Hosted by Grace Hightower De Niro and Robert De Niro, with Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, the screening will take place at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City, on Saturday, April 26, at 11:00 a.m.
Sounding the Alarm examines the lives of 12 families who live with autism, and chronicles the challenges and opportunities they face from diagnosis to adulthood. Now that 1 in every 68 children in the U.S. is affected by autism, the need for comprehensive services and support across the lifespan is more crucial than ever. In the film, newly diagnosed families must navigate countless therapy sessions, are forced to move from state-to-state seeking state-regulated insurance coverage for treatments, and struggle with the insurmountable financial burdens of providing lifelong care for their loved ones.
Families include the Lawrences. Their son, Bradley, needs applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to help him learn to communicate and develop his social skills. In order for Bradley to receive appropriate treatment, his family must move from North Carolina to Indiana. The film also profiles retired decorated marine Hardy Mills and his wife Danielle, who in the past two years have spent over $120,000 for ABA services for their son, Shane. Hardy says he may have to sell his medals to pay for Shane’s therapy.
Each year, an estimated 50,000 adolescents on the autism spectrum enter adulthood. The film follows families as they prepare for their children to age out of school based services, with little-to-no available adult service options. Among those profiled are Massachusetts natives, the Martlings, whose son, Kent, will no longer be eligible to attend the Riverview School in East Sandwich, Mass., because he is approaching his 22nd birthday.
In addition, the film highlights Suzanne and Bob Wright’s efforts to raise autism awareness and establish Autism Speaks, the world’s foremost autism science and advocacy organization. Featured experts are Dr. Christopher McDougle, director of Mass General’s Lurie Center, and Dr. David Amaral, research director of the UC Davis MIND Institute, who speak to the progress of autism research, autism risk factors and the lack of funding for resources and research.
“Sounding the Alarm provides a powerful look at the lifelong needs of families as autism prevalence continues to rise while funding for research and services remains stagnant,” said Suzanne Wright. “We are grateful to Grace, Bob, and the Tribeca Family Festival for providing a forum to call attention to these critical issues facing the autism community.”
"The Tribeca Film festival has always been about community and inclusiveness,” said Grace Hightower De Niro. “We are proud to host Autism Speaks at the Tribeca Family Festival. Autism touches nearly everyone's life and we all know a sibling, caregiver, parent, or friend with a child who has Autism. This is truly an inclusive event to help show how much we all love and cherish these children."
Sounding the Alarm was produced and directed by John Block, and edited by Bruce Burger. Principal cinematography was completed by Tom Fahey and Sal Malguarnera. Financial support for the film was provided by The Mel Karmazin Foundation and Suzanne and Bob Wright. Sounding the Alarm is being viewed at screenings and festivals across the country, including at the UC Davis Mind Institute in Sacramento, CA, on April 29; Atlanta, GA, on May 15; and the Nantucket Film Festival on June 27.
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 communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It 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. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.