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Autism Speaks in the UK Announces a Change in Name to Autistica

Autistica Will Continue to Collaborate with Autism Speaks U.S. on Autism Research and Other Issues of Mutual Interest

NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 31, 2009) – Autism Speaks and the charity of the same name in the United Kingdom are pleased to announce that the latter will be renamed Autistica effective January 1, 2010. The U.K. charity has adopted as its positioning statement “Science in the Service of Autism.”

The two charities are linked by a common interest in raising funds for and funding biomedical research into the causes and treatment of autism, and have been fully separate and independent entities since March 2007. Autism Speaks in the U.S. is known both domestically and internationally for the advocacy work that its name implies and for the biomedical research it funds. The British charity continues to be focused entirely upon biomedical research and so its new identity is one which better reflects this core purpose. The two organizations will continue to collaborate in areas of shared interest, which include a number of collaborative international research projects in the fields of autism genetics, the study of baby siblings of children with autism and brain studies.

Hilary Gilfoy, chief executive of Autistica said, “We are grateful to our American colleagues at Autism Speaks for the support which they have given us during our first five years. This arrangement allowed us to benefit from their robust research template and funding experience. The change of name acknowledges that, with their help, we are now a mature organization able to stand on our own two feet and establish our own identity. We are looking forward to continuing our shared interest in research.”

Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks said, “We are delighted that the U.K. charity has become a recognized funder of autism research in its own right, and fully agree that the time has come when its independent status and separate identity should be reflected in its name. Progress in research relies on international collaboration between researchers and funders and we will continue jointly to encourage and develop this. We wish Autistica every success.”

Founder and now president of the U.K. charity, Dame Stephanie Shirley said, “I am delighted that we have been able to increase funding for autism research in the U.K. by following the example of the pioneering families in the United States who first inspired me and then supported me in creating the U.K. charity. I am sure Autistica will continue to go from strength to strength and I am proud that my own Shirley Foundation will be supporting the charity under its new name by meeting its core costs until 2012.”

Simon Wallace, Ph.D., Autism Speaks' director of research development Europe, will continue to be based in the U.K. and will continue to act as a link between the two organizations.

About Autism
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception only five short years ago, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $131 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families through 2014. 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. Autism Speaks funds millions each year in new autism research, in addition to supporting the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and a range of other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $200 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 community grant program and much more. 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. 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