In a single generation, autism has become one of the most common developmental disabilities, affecting an estimated 1.5 million Americans. With so many children diagnosed in the 1990s, over the next decade, hundreds of thousands of them will reach adulthood. How do we handle the upcoming needs of the adult autism community?
On September 7, Congress will begin considering the renewal of the Combating Autism Act of 2006. Signed into law by President George W. Bush, it authorized nearly $1 billion for combating autism spectrum disorders through public awareness and enhanced federal support for research and treatment.
And there’s a lot that we can do from a private sector standpoint as well. To talk about the steps autism advocates recommend, Alison Stewart spoke with Peter Bell, executive vice-president of Autism Speaks, and the father of a teenage son with autism.
For more information, please visit Need To Know on PBS.
Tune in to PBS’s “Need to Know” for a segment on the challenges facing adults with autism and their families, as well as the desperate need for services that will help them live productive and fulfilling lives. The segment will feature an interview with Autism Speaks Executive Vice President for Programs and Services Peter Bell, who discusses the ongoing needs of adults with autism and the call for Congress to renew the vital Combating Autism Act (CAA). Due for reauthorization on September 30, the 2006 CAA represents the federal government’s commitment to support autism research, services and treatment. To learn more, visit www.autismvotes.org.
“Need to Know” will air on the following major PBS stations this weekend. This list is not comprehensive, so please check your local PBS schedule for a date and time near you.
WGBH-TV Boston: Friday, July 29 – 10:00 p.m. EDT
WTTW-TV Chicago: Sunday, July 31 – 9:00 a.m. CDT
KERA-TV Dallas-Fort Worth: Saturday, July 30 – 8:00 p.m. CDT
WNET-TV New York: Friday, July 29 – 8:30 p.m. EDT
WHYY-TV Philadelphia: Friday, July 29 – 9:00 p.m. EDT
KQED-TV San Francisco: Friday, July 29 – 10:00 p.m. PDT
WETA-TV Washington, DC: Friday, July 29 – 10:30 p.m. EDT
Autism doesn’t end when your child turns 22.
That is among the many messages movingly delivered in a new television documentary, “Autism: Coming of Age.” The film, produced by award-winning filmmaker Catherine Sager for Springfield, Massachusetts public television station WGBY, and sponsored by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), highlights the lives of three families and the challenges they face finding and retaining supportive care.
- Dan Ryan is learning how to be as independent as possible as an adult. While he has made great progress, like banking and going food shopping, he still believes in the power of super heroes.
- Doug Murray works in a Boston hotel doing light maintenance and vacuuming – a passion since childhood. Most days, Doug is up at 5:30 a.m., takes two buses to work, and always arrives an hour early to say hello to all his friends. He continues to live at home, but wants a family and home of his own, his father explains in the film.
- Tomas Espinosa, whose diagnosis places him on the autism spectrum with an intellectual disability, is also non-verbal. He lives in his own home with 24/7 care. He has a roommate, loves to roller skate, play baseball, and spend time with his family.
For further information about to assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood, please check out the Autism Speaks Family Services Transition Tool Kit.
On April 27, Autism Speaks partnered with PBS’ This Emotional Life to present a webinar called “Growing Up With Autism.” The webinar featured a panel of scientists, parents, and individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) explaining what it is like “Growing Up with Autism.” Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D, the Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks and Research Professor at UNC Chapel Hill led a discussion with Connie Kasari, Ph.D. (UCLA), Holly Robinson Peete, and John Elder Robison, addressing the challenges that face individuals with an ASD and their families as they are initially diagnosed, navigate peer interactions and age out of services as they enter adulthood.
If you missed the webinar, we encourage you to watch it online and share your thoughts.
Autism Speaks recently awarded 16 new autism research grants, totaling over five million dollars. You can learn more about them here.
Tomorrow evening “Frontline” on PBS will present an episode called The Vaccine War. The show will address the controversy surrounding vaccines and the differing perspectives of the general public, scientists, and public health officials. Visitors to Frontline’s website can interact with medical experts identified by Frontline who will be responding to comments and answering questions. Visitors can also take a survey featuring five key questions about their attitudes toward vaccines, and find out how well their responses match responses from a nationwide survey.
Learn more about the episode and check your local listings here.
This guest post is by George from PBS’ ARTHUR. George lives in Elwood City. He loves to tell jokes with his ventriloquist puppet Wally. George also loves to build things with his Dad and play guitar.
Hi, I’m George! You may have seen me before with Arthur and all my other friends — and my ventriloquist puppet, Wally! — in Elwood City. They’re the best! I also have a new friend named Carl. He knows lots of cool stuff about trains. I never knew there were so many different kinds! Carl told me all about them, and showed me all the great pictures of trains that he drew from memory.
When I first met Carl, I wasn’t sure if he liked me or not. He didn’t laugh at my jokes and he didn’t look at me that much while I was talking to him. But then I found out it’s because he has something called Asperger’s Syndrome. I didn’t know what that was until Brain explained it to me. He said that people with Asperger’s see things differently than other people do.
Sometimes Carl can get really quiet, or not answer when I say something. He’s not being rude, he just acts a little differently. Now that I understand that, I know it’s ok. I’m learning from Carl that there are lots of different ways to be friends. I’m glad he’s my friend. I like him for who he is, and I think he feels the same about me!
Parents & Kids,
To see for yourself how Carl met George, tune in to ARTHUR on Monday, April 5 (check your local listings). And, check out George’s fun coloring page, trading card and game at http://pbskids.org/arthur/friends/george/index.html.
You can watch the entire episode online here.
This is a guest blog post from our friends at Vulcan Productions and NOVA/WGBH…
On the eve of a new year, as millions of Americans search for more meaning in their lives, Vulcan Productions and NOVA/WGBH have teamed with Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness, Professor Daniel Gilbert, to produce This Emotional Life.
This Emotional Life is a two-year outreach campaign anchored by a three-part, national broadcast series on PBS (airing Jan. 4-6, 2010) that examines the science behind our emotions, the challenges to our well-being and the keys to leading happier lives. We are so excited to engage the Autism Speaks community in our campaign. Everyone who lives with autism understands what an emotional journey it can be. This campaign aims to provide individuals with resources to make that journey a little easier.
Spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions, the project includes the PBS series – which features compelling personal stories and cutting edge research, along with revealing insights from celebrities including Larry David, Alanis Morissette, Robert Kennedy Jr., Chevy Chase and Richard Gere – a dynamic and content-rich website, a national outreach campaign and educational toolkits created to support topics within the series.
The first show focuses on relationships – how they’re built and why they’re important to human happiness. One of the stories in this first show is about Jason, a 29-year old man with Asperger’s syndrome. Jason discusses his constant struggle reading others’ emotions and signals, making it difficult for him to form relationships. He shares his daily struggle to be successful in social situations, a common issue for people with autism spectrum disorders. His story offers viewers a glimpse into the difficulties and frustrations those living with autism often face in their everyday interactions. You can take a look at some of Jason’s story here:
The campaign will continue on for two years post-broadcast. Through our website, the distribution of our early childhood attachment and military family toolkits, and several other initiatives, we will continue to promote the mission of this project. We are partnering with great organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America, the Mayo Clinic and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.
You can view the trailer and learn more about the program on the “This Emotional Life” web site.
It is our hope that this campaign will offer you and your families support – whether it is through relating to stories like Jason’s, or visiting our website and finding information, resources in your area, or support from people just like you.
For more information, go to www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife.