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Posts Tagged ‘Autism-Europe’

Autism Speaks Being Heard in Europe

November 2, 2011 4 comments

Autism Speaks staffers meet with members of the Dutch autism research community, Nederlandse Vereniging voor Autisme and the Health Council of the Netherlands

Posted by Autism Speaks staffers Simon Wallace, Ph.D., director of scientific development for Europe; Dana Marnane, vice president of awareness and events; and Daniel Lightfoot, Ph.D., director of the Autism Tissue Program  

Over the last week, we visited three European countries to explore partnerships with researchers and autism organizations. In particular we’ve been discussing Autism Speaks’ efforts in the areas of awareness, communication, our Global Autism Public Health (GAPH) initiative and the Autism Tissue Program (ATP).

Pulling our suitcases behind us, our first stop was in Stockholm, Sweden, where we met with Prof. Sven Bölte, of the Karolinska Institute for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, to discuss establishing an autism brain bank in Sweden.

As highlighted in a recent Nature article, one of the best ways for scientists to understand how autism affects brain development is by looking directly at the tissue. Just as diabetes researchers must study the pancreas, scientists studying developmental neurological conditions such as autism must study brain tissue.  Already, research has revealed altered cell organization in brains affected by autism. This research can continue and progress only by increasing donations of this precious resource.  Autism Speaks is working with its partnering brain bank in the UK to expand collections into other European countries.

From Sweden, we traveled to London and shifted our focus from scientific research to autism awareness. In recent years, Autism Speaks has led global awareness efforts through initiatives such as our Ad Council campaigns, World Autism Awareness Day, GAPH and Light it up Blue. The measurable success of these efforts has led to expanded partnerships with European organizations. During our London visit, this crystallized in a meeting with European parent organizations and other autism advocates.

Present at the meeting were representatives of Autism Europe (which includes over 80 member associations), Autistica, Autism France, the Celtic Nations Autism Partnership, London’s Centre for Research in Autism and Education, the Hungarian Autism Society and Irish Autism Action. We spent the day learning about each other’s campaigns and brainstorming ways to increase global autism awareness. Everyone was familiar with our Light it Up Blue initiative and were actively planning their increased participation in the year ahead. The overall feeling was that, together, we can accomplish so much more. We will continue exploring this fruitful partnership in the months ahead.

Next it was a short hop to Utrecht, in the Netherlands, at the invitation of Nederlandse Vereniging voor Autisme (NVA), the country’s national autism organization. Its staff and members were eager to learn more about GAPH and our international awareness initiatives. Our team also took this opportunity to explore the development of a brain tissue bank in the Netherlands, to match our efforts in the UK and Sweden.

A highlight from this visit was the Netherlands National Autism meeting, the first national meeting of Dutch autism families and their research community. As special guests, we heard about Dutch research examining the relationship between genes and behavior, autism prevalence, nutrition, the elderly and autism, enabling technology and an intervention for young people with autism to help them understand sexuality. Over the next few weeks we will be inviting some of these researchers to describe their studies on our science blog.

There is much we can learn by working together with our European partners, and our visit was an important step in forging closer collaborations involving science and awareness. Goodbye for now; hejdå and dag to our Swedish and Dutch friends!

 

3 Days Left Until Light It Up Blue

March 29, 2011 6 comments

The countdown is on to April 1st! World Autism Awareness Month is in reach and we are so excited to Light It Up Blue! Every day, leading up to the big day we’ll post highlights, a special interview and much more!

White House, Light It Up Blue!

Today Mrs. Sergeant Major, who is a military wife and autism mom, makes an appeal to President Obama to light The White House blue. Please leave your comments on the blog, time is running out!

Who’s Lighting It Up Blue?

We are thrilled to announce that Autism-Europe will be participating in World Autism Awareness Day again this year. There are several buildings and landmarks lighting up and we are so glad they are partnering with us to light it up blue! 

Europe also came together to talk about brain banking and creating plans for sharing this most precious resource, just in time for World Autism Awareness Day! Read more about it here.

Visit www.lightitupblue.org to get pledge your support and get involved!


 

 

Clérigos Tower - Porto, Portugal

Community Spotlight 

Today’s virtual interview is with Jennifer B. from Rocky River, Ohio  

Autism Speaks: What are you Lighting Up Blue?
Jennifer B.:
Bonnie Bank ‘Blue-evard!’

AS: Why are you lighting up Bonnie Bank ‘Blue-evard?’ We love that!
JB: My 9 year old daughter Madeline was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when she was 4 years old.  As she gets older, the gap is beginning to widen between Madeline and her peers.  I believe it is so important to educate children and the community about autism.  By lighting our street blue, not only are we showing our love and support of Madeline, we are also getting people to ask questions.  I believe as people become aware and seek answers to their questions, the more they will understand…and understanding leads to friendship.

AS: How did you go about lighting up your block?
JB: B-3, as we residents affectionately refer to it, consists of 48 homes.  This past Saturday, I knocked on doors, and spoke to each of my neighbors about Autism Awareness month, Madeline, and the Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign.  I told them of my desire to turn Bonnie Bank Blvd. into Bonnie Bank ‘Blue-evard.’  I was truly amazed by the response!  What I had thought would be an hour long walk along the street turned into an eight hour journey.  By the end of my ‘walk’, not only did I learn about the compassionate nature  of my neighbors, I also achieved my goal of lighting up the ‘Blue-evard!’

Are you lighting up blue too? Take this quick and easy survey to tell us how!

Take the Pledge to Light It Up Blue!

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