It was a great morning aboard the iconic Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on Saturday, March 31st as families came out for the Autism Speaks Salutes Military Families event. More than 200 guests joined us for this special event to kick off Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Awareness Day.
The event featured a program emceed by ABC News Correspondent Bob Woodruff who spoke about the challenges and struggles faced by our military families. The program started with the presentation of colors by a local Navy Junior ROTC Color Guard followed by a performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” by the USO’s Liberty Bells. Special guest speakers included Congressman John Larson (D-CT), Deputy Assistant to President Obama Michael Strautmanis, Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, President of the Intrepid Susan Marenoff-Zausner and Karen Driscoll, a Marine Corps wife and mother of a child with autism who told her personal story of being a military family affected by autism.
Introduced by Retired NASA astronaut Jeffrey Alan Hoffman, the morning also marked the debut of a very special message from astronaut Dan Burbank aboard the International Space Station.
Families enjoyed kid-friendly activities provided by volunteers and M.O.V.E., tours of the Intrepid and a performance by Brady Rymer. A resource fair was set up to provide the visiting military families easy access to the information and guides available for dealing with the unique set of circumstances military families affected by autism face. Given the frequent duty station changes and social turmoil of military service, military children with autism often face additional challenges with which their civilian counterparts do not have to contend. In addition to Autism Speaks, ACT Today! the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) and American Military Families Autism Support (AMFAS) provided material for the resource fair. View television coverage from NY1 here.