By Ann Gibbons, Executive director, National Capital Area chapter; photos by Mike Lang
During the Presidential inauguration weekend, Autism Speaks participated in the National Day of Service exhibition on the National Mall. Over 25,000 prospective volunteers toured booths dedicated to health, education, economic development, and other community concerns.
Nora Fitzpatrick, volunteer leader of the National Capital Area chapter’s Community Outreach Ambassadors, served at the event. “ Having a booth at the National Day of Service was a tremendous opportunity for our organization to spread awareness about autism, but also connect with visitors who had questions about this disorder that affects 1in 88 children in the United States,” said Nora. “I was honored to have the opportunity to answer the questions of people who had some limited understanding of autism and help fill in some holes. On Saturday I met people from every corner of the United States. "My brother has autism" and "I teach children with autism" and "My neighbor's son has autism" were samples comments I heard all day long. The sheer amount of people who stopped by, signed their name to our volunteer list, and shared their stories truly illustrated how autism is indeed a national crisis that deserves a national strategy.”
“An important commitment of Autism Speaks is to lower the age of screening, diagnosis and access to needed intervention,” said Dr. Anita Miller Sostek, Autism Speaks Vice President of Scientific Review & Operations. “Although autism screening can occur within a routine pediatric visit as early as 18 months, the average age of autism diagnosis in the United States remains around 4 years of age. Volunteers across the country can help us get the word out.”
Our “Early Access to Care” initiative resonated with many of our visitors on Saturday. Hundreds of people from Seattle to Miami took copies of our Early Access to Care flyer to post at their pediatricians’ offices and church bulletin boards.
Autism is a national crisis. It deserves a national strategy. Please join us today by downloading and posting our Early Access to Care call to action in your community today.