This World Autism Month, Autism Speaks pledges to Act Fearlessly for acceptance and change

April 1, 2024

April 1, 2024 (New York, NY) – This April, in recognition of World Autism Month, and with its history of standing alongside the autism community, Autism Speaks is launching its #ActFearlessly campaign and encouraging the public to sign its pledge, share their stories, advocate for legislation and support the unwavering commitment of Autism Speaks to the wide range of experiences and needs of those on the spectrum.

Today, 1 in 36 children and 1 in 45 adults in the U.S. have autism. These diagnosis levels, combined with pervasive misconceptions about autism and the spread of disinformation, have made it more critical than ever that autistic people are supported, championed and celebrated.

“For nearly two decades, Autism Speaks has been a leading source of information and a force for meaningful connections within the autism community by advocating for the acceptance and inclusion of autistic people at every stage of life,” said Keith Wargo, Autism Speaks President and Chief Executive Officer. “Increasingly, however, misconceptions about autism and the frequent exclusion of autistic people from important conversations threaten access to the vital information, resources and support autistic people and their families need.”

To kick off the campaign, Autism Speaks will host its 17th Celebrity Chef Gala on April 2 – World Autism Awareness Day – that will welcome more than 50 notable chefs, philanthropists and advocates for a unique, culinary industry event to draw attention to the stories and needs of the autistic community. Proceeds will help support grants, research & innovation, advocacy, and partnerships that improve the quality of life and well-being of people with autism.

“As an advocate for the autistic community and a father of a son with autism, it’s an honor to bring together chefs for a night of culinary excellence to support those on the spectrum in achieving their dreams and most importantly, to create even more opportunities for them at every stage of their lives,” said Gala Culinary Chair Chef Franklin Becker.

Four-time James Beard winning TV personality Chef Andrew Zimmern will return as the evening’s host, which will also feature a performance by Kodi Lee, an autistic singer-songwriter, pianist and winner of America’s Got Talent. Other celebrity chefs include Daniel Boulud, Masaharu Morimoto and Jonathan Waxman, who will all cook and serve a multi-course, tableside meal for attendees.

Alongside the #ActFearlessly campaign, Autism Speaks is also honored to establish the Bob Wright Philanthropy Award for visionary investments in autism. The award, named in his honor, and to be presented at the Celebrity Chef Gala, celebrates Wright’s fearless and transformative philanthropic impact on the autistic community. Bernie Marcus of The Marcus Foundation will be recognized as its inaugural recipient for his tremendous contributions over several decades to the field of autism. At the Gala, Autism Speaks will also recognize another fearless advocate: The Center for Discovery, a leading provider of healthcare and education services for more than 1,200 children and adults with complex conditions, medical frailties and autism spectrum disorders.

About Autism Speaks  

Autism Speaks is dedicated to creating an inclusive world for all individuals with autism throughout their lifespan. We do this through advocacy, services, supports, research and innovation, and advances in care for autistic individuals and their families. To find resources, join an event or make a donation, go to Learn more by following @AutismSpeaks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn.