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Autism Speaks U Spotlight – Saint Mary’s College

September 27, 2010 1 comment

This guest post is by Allison Drake, the president and founder of the Autism Speaks U Chapter at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She is a senior Communicative Disorders major and plans on becoming a speech pathologist working with individuals on the spectrum. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.

My desire to help the student population on campus comes directly from my family. My youngest brother T.J. was diagnosed with autism at the age of six. Growing up he faced many difficulties academically and socially because of it. Since his diagnosis he has come such a long way, and I truly believe that children on the spectrum can improve dramatically with proper support and guidance. However, we as a country have not come close to funding enough research to help support and guide the almost 4 million children born with autism every year. Autism Speaks is an organization that stands for what I believe in; providing education and funds for research to help those affected by autism.

 

The Autism Speaks U Saint Mary’s Chapter sporting the sunglasses that they sold at one of their fundraisers.

 

It is for this reason, that I decided to start an Autism Speaks U Chapter at Saint Mary’s during the Fall semester of 2010. With majors like Communicative Disorders, Psychology and Education, Saint Mary’s was lacking an organization that supported a population many of us will be working with in the future; that’s where Autism Speaks U comes in. Our goal as a chapter this year is to raise funds to support the national organization at Autism Speaks.

We are currently in the process of planning a walk on Saint Mary’s campus to occur during Autism Awareness month in April 2011. We are going to work hard to include the local community, by means of reaching out to the local Autism Center in South Bend.Since  Saint Mary’s is right across the street from the University of Notre Dame, so we have reached out to Notre Dame for additional support. They also happen to have classes and research labs dedicated to autism studies. With the support of the local community and the University of Notre Dame, we are expecting our first walk to be quite a success.

We are currently hosting two popular fundraisers on campus. We started selling autism puzzle piece silly bandz for $1 each, and have raised almost $200 in two weeks. We also ordered sunglasses in neon green that promote our Autism Speaks U Chapter for the girls to purchase and wear at the Notre Dame football games and around campus. I have been fortunate to have a great team of officers who have helped me do everything. We wouldn’t be where we are without all of their help. Since school started, we have recruited almost 150 girls to be part of our chapter and have reached out to other clubs, such as the National Student Speech Hearing and Language Association, Saint Mary’s Education Club and Psi Chi which is the International Honor Society in Psychology. We are so excited to experience this much success so early on in the semester. I cannot wait to see the foundation we will leave at Saint Mary’s when I graduate in May.

If you’d like to support Allison’s fundraising efforts at Saint Mary’s College please click here.

If you are involved with Autism Speaks U on your campus and would like your story to be featured on the Autism Speaks blog, please send it to AutismSpeaksU@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

In Their Own Words – Considering the Lilies

September 26, 2010 4 comments

This “In Their Own Words,” is written by Patty Dobbs Gross.

Danny and I were riding on the subway last week, glad to have snagged seats next to each other, happy to be together on the way to enjoy both summer in the city as well as a ballet at the Met; we both share an appetite for the Big Apple as well as for the visual delicacy of dance… 

 The man coming toward us was very tall, with a heft to his body and a slice of rolling skin uncomfortably visible between shirt hem and ragged sweatpants.  I was also inexplicably encased in sweatpants that had seen better days on this sweltering July day, and this was what I was thinking when the man suddenly looked up, raised his voice and addressed the entire subway car in one fell swoop of a sentence: “Attention…may I please have your attention?” 

 He had clearly said this before, and all eyes swung obediently to his commanding presence. “I am homeless and in need of change, even small change, to attend to my needs.” This is all I can remember him saying verbatim, for the mention of his needs dropped a curtain in my mind; he seemed much too tall, confident and well fed to be truly needy; at least to be significantly needier than my own family, quite house poor and college drained in the suburbs…

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Danny reach into his pocket for change; without a moment’s thought I gently touched his hand to communicate for it to still. Danny has autism and despite this fact (or because of it) he now attends USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, earning an MFA in film editing. His only adjustment to life at USC was his habit of giving cash to the strings of panhandlers that ring its iron gates…he called me one night and sheepishly confessed to doling out nearly $80 in cash to a woman who was homeless. After she took the money she claimed to have an inheritance she could share with him if he would just give her the $100 it would take to clear the court costs. Danny didn’t care about the inheritance, but he worried for her because she couldn’t reach this money without this initial outlay of cash; he wondered to me, in the voice of someone hurt by the level of misunderstanding between us, shouldn’t he give this relatively small amount of cash to her so that she could access this money and get off the streets? Doesn’t that make logical sense? 

 This was the moment I realized that although Danny never abused drugs or alcohol throughout his teenage years, he clearly still needed to learn how to just say no.    

The man was moving toward us as he strode confidently down the center of the subway aisle, holding the overhead silver rings to steady himself with a steady rhythm as the car rollicked back and forth, but he stopped his journey when he noticed my hand touching Danny’s.  He met my eyes with a snap.

“Are you his mother?” the man asked me, point blank and direct.

“Well, maybe that’s true….” I said, laughing a bit as if he had told me a silly joke.  All eyes in the subway car were now on me while I struggled to hold his eye contact, my heart rapidly picking up pace. “Or maybe not.”  It wasn’t that I wanted to be provocative or to attract attention, but that I didn’t want him to know anything about me whatsoever, and being Danny’s mother is at the white hot core of my being.

The man stopped his journey forward then, a move that struck me as mildly aggressive as he loomed over my sitting body. At my age my body is apparently sinking slowly into itself anyway, but he made me want to fold myself up in a hurry, but I happen to be Irish (and this explains a lot.)  So instead of fading away I held his gaze for another moment while I told him: “That’s mine to know.” 

He held my gaze pointedly for another moment, but then shook his head and broke eye contact (first! ;-) to resume panhandling; soon only his thrusting cup was visible, although his words rang out clearly as he altered his spiel to say, “Well, I wouldn’t let my mother stop me from doing what I wanted, and I wouldn’t let my aunt or my neighbor or anybody stop me either…I’m my own man…”

I tasted the bitterness of my sarcastic comment before I swallowed it, along with my considerable fear, to simply look down and pretend to study my shoes (they were black Velcro sneakers, cheap but sturdy, and quite handy if you need to dash off in a hurry.)  I was old enough to know that you never poke the bear if you can possibly help it, and I was already figuring out how I’d shape this experience into a lesson for Danny if we survived to make our train ride home to Connecticut. It would definitely end with the moral of the story being why he should not give money to panhandlers.

 When we left the subway car two stops later, on the grimy stairs that lifted us to the light of day, I whispered to Danny, “You didn’t take that stuff he said about manhood personally, did you?” 

“What stuff about manhood?” he asked me, genuinely confused.

I remembered then what I sometimes forget, that despite his success in life Danny still doesn’t learn much from his auditory pathways; in fact, he hadn’t even processed this man’s taunting words once he was out of his personal line of sight. The visual information of the scene he later relayed to me was letter perfect, and he could describe the man’s outfit much better than I in the short amount of time he had attended to him. Danny is not cured of the sensory integration difference he was born with despite his successful life, nor has his gift/curse of not attending to social subtleties vanished; he has only learned to compensate for his inherent and supposed weaknesses and capitalize on his considerable strengths the way he had learned to do before he even crafted his first original sentence.

And he might have continued to attend to what the man was saying if he had kept his voice loud and commanding, but Danny didn’t end up processing any of his later words that were spoken in a sweet and saccharine tone, despite their mission to wound Danny’s ego in order to shame him into giving him money; the honey coated but cutting words had instead gone blessedly over Danny’s head. I smiled as I thought of this man being hoisted by his own petard rather than what might have happened if he were clumsily called out by me, and I silently vowed once again to remain quiet when my ego struggles to speak, as so many previous life lessons have also attempted to teach me.

I have been a slow study…

 I raced up the stairs and joined the frenzied and sizzling pace of New York City in the summer, focusing on my gratitude for the breeze and my son beside me as we raced together toward the Met… just minutes later we were watching a ballet that it took a month of Sunday night hot dogs to afford to witness, and I swear I didn’t even notice the looks I must have received by virtue of my scruffy sweatpants and Velcro shoes before the lights went down; Danny and dance were the only things on my mind for the next few blessed hours, as I considered the beauty of all the lilies that graced our field.

In Their Own Words – What is Autism?

September 25, 2010 29 comments

This “In Their Own Words,” is written by Megan Winkler-Schmitt, who was inspired to write after her best friend’s son was diagnosed with autism.

I was thinking today, as I dried my hair, about what this mysterious thing called autism really is. I started making of list of what it is, based on what I’ve seen only, and I ran into the other room to write it down. I’d like to share it with you.

Please note that this is what autism looks like to me. These are the experiences I’ve had with it, and it differs from your own. I do not have a child with autism, but a little one very special to me and very dear to my heart struggles with it. I have learned so much from this little angel who is undeniably special and infinitely precious, and I see autism as something very real now. Let’s just say that for me, myths have been thrown out the window, and when you know someone with autism, you realize that what you thought you knew isn’t correct at all.

I don’t know why this jumped into my head. I wasn’t reading anything on it online. I wasn’t talking about it. I didn’t see a news program on it. But, sometimes, inspiration hits and you just have to listen. So, here are my thoughts. Please, please, share your thoughts with me, too.

 (And yes, I realize that it came out in very loose poetic form; it’s just how it works sometimes.)

 Autism is joy in little things.
It is pain and heartache.
It is the pleasure of bubbles;
the consistency of golden toast.
It is running through sprinklers,
because it just feels so good.
It is frustrated little grunts,
communication in screams,
a mommy who just wants to hear,
“I love you,” but even “Mommy” would be nice.

Banging your head against the wall,
it is the sleep of a sleepless night.
It is pleading and begging,
bargaining and weeping.
It is a mother and father clinging to one another,
and faith.

It is the crunch of a leaf,
it is the wind in your hair.
It is the simple joy of repetition,
the comfort of a pattern,
the security of routine.

It is unexpected moments,
of open-mouthed kisses:
those little things others take for granted.

It is loving a fluffy dog with your cheek,
and crossing your eyes,
just because the world looks curiously different that way.
It is inventing your own language
that only the fairies and Mommy speak.

It is struggle; it is strife.
It is imperfection,
but, then again,
so is everything,
in life.

It is tears and fears,
but it is simplicity and innocence.
It is not taking for granted,
it is cherishing, hoping,
running up a down escalator.

And if life is perfect,
just the way it is:
faults and imperfections,
second-guesses and small joys,
then what is autism but life,
lived in its own way?

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

Autism in the News – 09.24.10

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I-Pad unlocks new world for people with autism (Terre Haute, Ind.)
When the iPad was unveiled earlier this year, people around the world began snatching up these tiny, touch screen computers. Read more.

UN 65th session: Madam Chantal Biya joins the fight against autism (Cameroon Radio Television)
On the sideline of the 65th ordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly, Cameroon’s First Lady, Madam Chantal Biya took part in the third United Nations Forum on Autism. Read more.

Tonight’s Fashion for Autism models and designer Edwing D’Angelo (Washington, D.C.)
Last night, models  strut their stuff for Edwing D’Angelo’s casting call as a practice run for tonight’s Fashion for Autism event  at the Capital City Club. Read more.

Lessons served on court (The Daily Journal)
Brian and Marisa Wachhorst were heartbroken when they learned their 10-year-old son, Riley, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome — an autism spectrum disorder — five years ago. It was only natural. After all, the one thing parents want most is for their kids to grow up with a “normal” childhood. Read more.

Early Childhood Intervention celebrates 30 years of service (HeraldDemocrat.com)
Thirty years ago, Grayson Early Childhood Intervention Director Linda Horton said it wasn’t uncommon for parents of children with disabilities and developmental delays to hide them from the public. Now, thanks to ECI and greater public understanding, today’s children with similar challenges can overcome them. Read more.

In Their Own Words – Public vs. Private School Debate: Do the Math

September 24, 2010 33 comments

This “In Their Own Words,” is written by Glen Finland. She is the author of “Next Stop,” a memoir about raising her autistic son to adulthood and learning to let go.

Last year my autistic adult son David wrapped up twenty years of education, ten of them spent in private school, the other half in public school. And, hindsight being 20-20, here’s what educating a high functioning autistic son like David taught me. It’s simple mathematics: Send your kid to public school and keep your money in your wallet. You’re going to need it for what happens next—because what happens next is the rest of his life.

Parents of a young adult with special needs face an unending management of another person’s life over the decades ahead: housing, transportation, insurance, clothing, food, job coaching, medical expenses, and, of course, quality of life expenses like entertainment, vacations, and even pets. Think of how far the tuition fee of a single year of private school could go toward taking care of some of these expenses down the road. Now multiply that figure by twenty. The numbers will tell you if it’s a wise investment.

In public school with a good IEP, the services are free. They should be; you’ve already paid for them with your taxes. Your child will also learn in less of an isolated bubble—and yes—be forced to toughen up a bit by facing the real world struggles of life in the quicker moving mainstream. Don’t expect runaway success there. In fact, be prepared for regular bouts of failure. But no matter how painful the lesson, down the road your child will be that much better equipped for the the daily slights he’s sure to incur—those careless, casual assaults on his spirit that he will face simply for being differently abled.

For example, it has come to my attention that my 23-year old son is now a heavy tipper. These days he drives a 54-mile roundtrip each day to his job as a custodian at a federal office building outside the nation’s capital. He’s a good driver, but when he stops off for coffee along the way, he might pull out a $20 bill to pay for a single cup of java, then walk away. His generosity is not because he’s got such deep pockets; it’s because he wants to avoid the impossible math involved in the exchange and, even more, the eye contact that goes along with it. Whose pocket that leftover chunk of change ends up in is totally dependent upon the scruples of the particular cashier. It took me months to figure out where all his change was going and how to remedy the situation with a few five dollar bills, but these are the kind of real world surprises that continue to sneak up on us every day. This reminds me to be careful about who I allow to “keep the change” when it comes to planning ahead for my son’s future.

You know, it’s true what mothers have always said about the time with our children: “The days go by like years, and the years go by like days.” So go ahead and let your child ride the big yellow public school bus for now. It’ll do him no harm. And that way he can count on your really being there for him once school lets out for good.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

Autism Speaks Participates in FasterCures “Crossing the Valley of Death” Forum

September 23, 2010 2 comments

As more and more is learned about the biology of autism, the development of novel medicines to treat its core symptoms is no longer just a hope.  Therefore Autism Speaks was pleased to be invited to participate in the 5th annual FasterCures-Esquire Leadership Forum, devoted this year to the topic of translational research, that is, how to translate knowledge gained from basic research into products that can provide real healthcare benefits for patients.

FasterCures, a Washington D.C. think tank focused on accelerating medical solutions, is based on the founding principle that saving time saves lives.  Since 2005 they have brought together a cross-disciplinary group of innovative thinkers to explore novel approaches that hold the potential to accelerate the search for new treatments and cures for diseases.  With representatives of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and patient advocacy organizations in attendance, the theme for this year’s small workshop was to determine action items to achieve innovation in drug development.   Attendees agreed that in order for this to happen as fast as possible, there needs to be better integration between all stakeholders – patients, financiers, academic researchers and for-profit companies alike.  The meeting participants called for the identification of new business models and research paradigms to achieve this integration.

Full of buzz words such as “open innovation,” “collaboration,” and “entrepreneurship,” the discussions focused on identifying the organizational and cultural barriers that influence the interface between traditional academic research and industry-related drug development.   This interface has long been called the “Valley of Death” because of the enormous difficulty in translating research discoveries into viable medical solutions.   While the government has begun several initiatives to push biomedical research forward across the Valley of Death, for-profit organizations such as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are beginning to unite to address the challenges that make it inefficient and, at times, impossible, to carry forward such risky and costly research on their own.  Some of the challenges identified at the meeting include the many knowledge gaps that remain in our basic understanding of human biology, the lack of financial incentives to work in some disease areas, and the constraints created by business policies that are meant to provide competitive advantages but instead often hinder progress.

The short meeting highlighted lessons learned from other industries and several new models of collaboration.   At its conclusion the participants agreed that streamlining the drug development process will involve not just procedural improvements but much more partnering than has ever been attempted before, including between individual pharmaceutical companies and between pharmaceutical companies and academia.  This opens a role for non-profit advocacy organizations such as Autism Speaks in bringing together the many diverse players, each with their own motivations and incentives.   Towards this end, Autism Speaks has recently formed a Translational Research Initiative that aims to enhance communication between academic scientists and industry representatives and nurture our renewed hopes for successful translational research in autism and new healthcare solutions.

Read more about translational research from our Chief Science Officer, Dr. Geri Dawson.

Autism in the News – 09.23.10

September 23, 2010 1 comment

Study follows new siblings of kids with autism (Baltimore Sun)
Autism is a collection of related neurobiological conditions that is being reported more often. Researchers are now exploring genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to the disorders that affect social interactions and communication. M. Daniele Fallin, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is the principal investigator of a multistate study, called the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation, or EARLI, that is looking at siblings of those with the disorders. Read more.

Autistic Icelandic Boy Inspires Winslet to Start Fund (Iceland)
English actress Kate Winslet announced yesterday that she has established a fund to support people with autism in cooperation with Margrét Dagmar Ericsdóttir, the mother of autistic Icelandic boy Keli, the star of the documentary A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism (original title: Sólskinsdrengurinn, or “The Sunshine Boy”) by director Fridrik Thór Fridriksson, for which Winslet did the English narration. Read more.

Delight as Avenue School earns outstanding praise (UK)
Pupils and staff at The Avenue School in Tilehurst are celebrating after the school become one of the first in the country to be ranked ‘outstanding’ by a disability charity. Read more.

This show means more than most to the artists (Westerville, Ohio)
“Disability” and “creativity” are not mutually exclusive attributes. That’s one lesson viewers can take away from “The ADDvantages of Art,” an exhibition that opens Saturday at Gallery 202 in Westerville. Read more.

Donor covers full cost of guide dog (Canada)
The offer of assistance came right out of the blue. Members of the Merritton Lioness service club had been planning on putting a little bit of their fundraising proceeds aside each year to eventually pay for a guide dog for someone in need. Read more.

Decoding Autism

September 23, 2010 17 comments

This is a guest post by Sara Lee Kessler, the reporter, producer, and writer of “Decoding Autism” on NJN Public Television. “Decoding Autism” will premier on Monday, September 27 at 9pm EDT on NJN1. Viewers can also watch online here.

I have been NJ Public Television’s Health & Medical Correspondent for nearly 15 years, and have done stories on every medical condition imaginable. Autism is the most heartbreaking topic.  It’s heartbreaking both because it wreaks havoc with parents’ emotions and dreams for their children and because it frustrates the child who can not express his needs. Autism spectrum disorder is a devastating diagnosis, especially because there is no known cause and no cure.

When I first started reporting on autism, in 1997, it was rare.  Few people had heard of it.  Today, it’s unusual to meet someone who doesn’t know a family that’s impacted by autism.  Some people are calling it an epidemic because the numbers keep going up. One in 110 children is now being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Here in New Jersey, the rates are one in 94, which has the highest prevalence rate in the nation. While there’s disagreement on whether the ever-rising autism prevalence rate constitutes an epidemic, I think we can all agree that, at the very least, it’s a major public health crisis!

That’s the reason, even after doing at least 30 “Healthwatch” reports on autism, that I decided to delve deeper into the topic and produce a documentary. Over the last eighteen-months, I have interviewed autism experts, educators and dozens of parents, children, and scientists for this project. But, ultimately, I decided that “Decoding Autism,” should focus on  what doctors know, what scientists are finding out, and how the flurry of autism research across the nation is starting to shed light on this mysterious disorder.

What I’d like to share with you, and what’s most encouraging to me, is that some of the best minds in the nation are working on autism.  They are researchers who are looking for and who have discovered gene variants involved in autism.  They are psychologists or neuroscientists who are conducting infant-sibling studies on “at risk” children, meaning infants who have an older brother or sister on the autism spectrum.  It was amazing to learn that infants who go on to develop autism spectrum disorders tend to look at a mother’s mouth, rather than her eyes, missing important social cues.  So, that’s why so many children with autism tend to be mind-blind!  Everyone I interviewed shed so much light on the subject of autism.

I was particularly fascinated by what researchers told me about the brains of children with autism.  I learned that, at core, autism is a brain connectivity disorder that causes signaling delays. No wonder children with ASD have trouble communicating!  One expert told me that the brain of a child with autism has a tangled web of abnormal neural connections that fail to prune at critical stages and that the brain of such a child tends to be larger.

I also learned that we should be talking about the “autisms,” with an “s,” rather than autism, because, just like cancer, there are many different types of autism. Scientists say it’s critical that they find biomarkers, so they can develop treatment targets. As you’ll surmise when you watch “Decoding Autism,” I’m optimistic that today’s research will lead to tomorrow’s prevention strategies, earlier intervention, better therapies and, even cures.  That’s critical because parents of children with autism deserve answers.

Third Annual World Focus on Autism

September 22, 2010 5 comments

Tommy Hilfiger, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, Wife of the U.N. Secretary-General, Suzanne Wright, Dee Hilfiger, and Bob Wright

For the third year in a row at the start of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, first spouses and dignitaries from around the globe assembled today for the Third Annual World Focus on Autism, hosted by Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism research and advocacy organization. Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, wife of the U.N. Secretary-General and Hosts Suzanne and Bob Wright of Autism Speaks, were joined by Co-hosts Dee and Tommy Hilfiger and more than 10 first spouses to discuss solutions to combat the global crisis of autism.

The international coalition in attendance represented a wide array of countries. The participation of the first spouses demonstrated a striking endorsement of global efforts to raise autism awareness. The group joined together for a Q & A session with world-class experts from the scientific community and discussed international solutions to raise global awareness and promote research into this non-discriminative disorder.

Fashion magnate, Tommy Hilfiger, expressed support for Autism Speaks by saying, “My wife Dee and I are delighted to be participating and lending our support to this cause. Autism prevalence is rising here and around the globe at an alarming rate. We will do whatever we can to help with this fight.”

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek welcomed the international group on behalf of her husband U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon stating, “Autism is so personal but also so global. The United Nations is proud to be part of the international response… Last April, we marked World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). I was privileged to take part in this massive social movement for solidarity.”

In the wake of Autism Speaks’ wildly successful autism awareness effort in celebration of WAAD, “Light It Up Blue,” in which more than 200 iconic landmarks, airports, bridges, sports arenas, museums around the world were illuminated in blue lights on the evenings of April 1 and 2, 2010, Suzanne Wright, Autism Speaks Co-founder, said “the world can expect to be bathed in blue” in 2011 as all of the attending first spouses agreed to participate and expand the program in their countries.

Other speakers at the World Focus on Autism included Geri Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer, Andy Shih, Ph.D., Autism Speaks’ Vice President of Scientific Affairs, Dr. Liri Berisha, President of the Albanian Children’s Foundation and wife of the Albanian Prime Minister. Other prominent attendees included Mrs. Chantal Biya, First Lady of Cameroon; Mrs. Elsie Christofias, First Lady of Cyprus; Mrs. Rosa Elena de Lobo, First Lady of Honduras; Mrs. Eloise Gonsalves, Spouse of the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and Grenadines; Mrs. Maja Ivanova, First Lady of the Republic of Macedonia; Mrs. Mathato Mosisili, First Lady of Lesotho; Mrs. Rosella Nestor King, First Lady of St. Lucia; Mrs. Valeria Toribiong, First Lady of Palau; and Mrs. Lilita Zatlere, First Lady of Latvia.

Attendees of the Third Annual World Focus on Autism

Autism Speaks Fall Classic

September 22, 2010 1 comment

On Monday, September 20, 2010- which was arguably one of the best days of weather we have enjoyed this year- Autism Speaks proudly kicked off its Inaugural Autism Speaks Fall Classic.  Joining us was our title sponsor, Shop Rite, and together we hosted an exciting day of golf at the illustrious Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ.  It was a wonderful day that included an afternoon shotgun start on Baltusrol’s famed Lower Course.  The tournament included several course contests and culminated with a Hole in One by Dr. Peter Kapsimalis who will take away a lease provided by Ray Catena Lexus of Freehold.  We are thrilled to announce that the Fall Classic raised over $200,000 for Autism Speaks!

Evening cocktails included a silent and a live auction that offered an opportunity to help fund family services initiatives for adults with autism.  Honorary Co-Chair and Autism Speaks Co-Founder Bob Wright rolled highlights from the first annual and highly successful “Light It Up Blue” initiative on World Autism Awareness Day, on April 2.  Event Co-Chair and President of The Bachman Company, Scott Carpenter hosted the evening program which included a “Thank You” video with a personal message from himself and fellow event Co-Chairs, Anne & Dave St.Clair.  The video was a touching piece that provided the Baltusrol audience with an overview of what autism is and why their support is so crucial to our cause.

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