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The Month in Review: Autism Speaks December 2011 Impact

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012! December was a busy month, with lots of last minute fundraising and grant activity. This month's "impact" post includes updates from across the organization. We hope the holidays were great for you and yours! As usual, this post is filled with top items from last month that we think made an impact for the community.



  • Tokyo The science team kicked off the month with a trip to Tokyo, where we attended the Joint Academic Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders, co-hosted by Autism Speaks and the Japanese National Institute of Mental Health. The meeting was a great stepping stone in building collaborative scientific relationships with Japan’s autism community.
  • Grants This month, we also announced over $13 million in grants for 47 autism research projects including identification of environmental influences and early biomarkers, the development of better autism animal models, the creation of the world’s largest whole genome autism library, studies on adult development and support, and updates on the cost of autism coupled with calculations on how specific services can reduce lifetime costs. We are especially pleased to announce our funding of the first U.S. autism prevalence study to use total population sampling methods. This study, developed in collaboration with the CDC, follows the lead of last year’s ground-breaking study in South Korea, which found an autism prevalence of 1 in 38 among schoolchildren, most of them previously undiagnosed.

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

  • Autism Safety Project This month, we added three new sections to the Autism Safety Project portal on our website. The Safety in the Community page consists of tips and resources specifically for a variety of simple experiences and activities that take place in the community such as Interacting with Law Enforcement, Asking for Help, Playing in the Neighborhood and many more. In addition, for the Safety in the Home page, the Ohio State Medical Center, a recipient of one of our Family Services Community Grants created Safe Signals, a tool kit and video designed to promote fire and burn safety for older teens and young adults with autism. We also included a section on sexual abuse that contains information on how to talk about sexuality, how to prevent sexual abuse, warning signs of sexual abuse, and more.
  • AutismCares Through a generous donation from HP this month, AutismCares was able to give out ten Slate 2 tablets to families in need. Tablets like the Slate 2 have been found to be extremely helpful in improving communication skills of individuals with autism. We received a record 2,400 applications for these life-changing devices. Stay tuned for more technology giveaways in January!

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.



  • CARA Persistence pays off! Over the past summer, Autism Speaks energized advocates across the country to urge Congress and President Obama to renew the landmark Combating Autism Act. Because of that hard work, President Obama has signed an appropriations bill approved by Congress that provides $230 million in new federal funding for autism research and services, the first of three new annual installments.
  • Speak Up! Make your voice heard! The federal government is now implementing the sweeping 2010 Affordable Care Act reforming American health care. How that law is implemented could profoundly affect insurance coverage for autism diagnoses and treatments. Learn more about the law and what you can do to protect autism benefits here.
  • Military families raising kids with autism can lose their benefits when they leave active duty. Autism Speaks has helped organize a Jan. 31 Congressional briefing on the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act which would end that inequity. Learn more about this vital issue here.

Want to get more involved with Autism Speaks advocacy efforts? Sign up to become an advocate on or text “AVotes” to 30644 to be added to our mobile alert list.



  • LOL On Monday December 5, 2011 Autism Speaks and New York Center for Autism (NYCA) honored iconic fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger for his commitment to increasing awareness and support of the autism community at A Funny Affair for Autism – a star-studded evening of fashion and comedy that helped raise over 1.3 million dollars for individuals with autism and their families.
  • Blue Tie Blue Jean Ball On December 1, the Los Angeles Chapter of Autism Speaks held the inaugural Blue Tie Blue Jean Ball.  In looking back at what made the event so amazing, I attribute it to four key elements: vision, focus, determination, and teamwork.  Over 700 people packed the House of Blues on the world famous Sunset Strip to hear the incomparable, beloved and ever gracious Sarah McLachlan sing some of her biggest hits.  She was introduced by autism mom and Grammy Award-winning singer Toni Braxton.  The show was hosted by comedian Sinbad, who also handled the live auction with humor and zip.

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!

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.