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Autism Speaks Co-Founders Visit England to Expand Global Autism Awareness

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November 03, 2008

The panel from the "Are we ambitious enough about autism?" event at the TreeHouse School. From left, Bob Wright, panel moderator and TreeHouse patron Jon Show, Anya Ustaszewski and Virginia Bovell

On Wednesday, October 22, Autism Speaks Co-Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright attended the inaugural Annual TreeHouse Lecture, entitled “Are we Ambitious Enough about Autism?” Bob Wright gave the keynote address and participated in a panel discussion. Other panelists include Virginia Bovell and Anya Ustaszewski, a member of the London Autism Rights Movement, who has autism. The event was chaired by TreeHouse patron Jon Snow.

In his keynote address, Wright encouraged the attendees to do everything possible to find the answers. He cited the U.S. campaign that has been so effective using a three-prong approach. (1) Educate the general population as well as caregivers and teachers working with young children; (2) Lobby the government to increase funding for research; and (3) Demand and develop improved interventions for those with autism. He cited TreeHouse, the national charity for autism education, as a shining example and pledged to support their great work. Click here to read a recap of the event from TreeHouse's site.

Earlier in the day, the Wrights visited the TreeHouse School in North London, which is home to 67 children suffering from autism ages 5 to 19. TreeHouse was the first school in the UK to use the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) employing the best teaching practices. CEO Ian Wylie gave the Wrights a tour of the facility explaining the school's successful ABA teaching and therapy approach and the one to one student teacher ratio.

From left, Suzanne Wright, Ian Wylie, CEO of the Treehouse School, Danny Bovell, Bob Wright and Virginia Bovell

While touring classrooms and meeting students, the Wrights listened to Ian Wylie's sentiment that local educational boards in England should be more open to allowing children as young as 3 years old to attend TreeHouse. The school prides itself on creating an atmosphere which mirrors a regular educational environment. Also accompanying the Wrights on their tour was Virginia Bovell, one of TreeHouse's founders. Bovell's son Danny, a TreeHouse student, met the Wrights on the playground, along with other students.

The Wrights continued raising global autism awareness by participating in a full day of interviews including the BBC TV News, the Daily Telegraph, BBC Radio World Service, and a meeting with the Times of London Editorial board.

On October 23, Bob Wright published an Op-Ed aticle in the Times of London entitled "Autism speaks. It's time for the world to listen" Click here to read the article. Additionally, Suzanne Wright did an interview with Anna Bruce-Lockhart, Editor of The Guardian Weekly, which resulted in an Op-Ed piece entitled “Speaking Out on Autism." Click here to read the article.

Highlights of Bob Wright's appearance on CNBC Europe
YouTube video ~ 2 minutes

On October 21, Bob and Suzanne Wright spent the day in London meeting with key politicians and decision makers in London. Click here to read more.

Click here for a photo gallery.