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2011: A Year of Advocacy Accomplishments

December 1, 2011 2 comments

Tis the season to reflect back on the year’s achievements.

2011 was a banner year for Autism Speaks – and for the autism community in general.  Some of the most significant milestones were reached in the area of public policy.

This year, incredible strides forward were made when Congress passed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA), authorizing an additional $693 million in federal funding for autism research, treatments and services over the next three years. In September, President Obama signed the bill with Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, and Board Member Billy Mann and his family attending the Oval Office ceremony.

Needless to say, this is an incredible win for the autism community which will help advance the support for individuals with autism.

2011 also ends with autism insurance reform laws on the books in 29 of the 50 states, with the addition of California, New York and four other states this year.  This means that more health services will be covered for more people living with autism.

Our fight is far from over.  We won’t be satisfied until all 50 states have enacted autism insurance reform so families no longer have to worry about how to pay for the instrumental development and medical needs of their family members.

Join the fight and support Autism Speaks advocacy efforts to help us hit the ground running in 2012.

Donate now.

(l to r) Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); Scott Badesch, president, Autism Society of America; George Jesien, executive director, Association of University Centers on Disabilities; President Obama; Suzanne and Bob Wright, Autism Speaks Co-founders; Gena, Jasper and Billy Mann, Autism Speaks.

“Lighting” the White House Blue

April 2, 2011 28 comments

The autism community came together to urge President Obama and his staff to light the White House blue as a symbol and statement to the world about autism. While we still have hope that it will happen one day, we took matters into our own hands this Saturday, April 2, 2011.

Over one hundred Autism Speaks supporters gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to commemorate the fourth annual World Autism Awareness Day and to light it blue with their presence, hope  and love for the community.

“We are gathered here today to help shine a light on autism,” said Jayne Tobin, whose sister and brother-in-law, Suzanne and Bob Wright, founded Autism Speaks in 2005.  “The children gathered here with their families, just like my grandnephew, represent the fastest growing developmental disability in the world.  It is imperative that our government and the world take action against autism.”

Rebecca Grazel, a student at George Washington University, took dozens of pictures of the blue-clad volunteers.  “By telling those who were in the dark about this empowering day and the disorder itself, we are ensuring that others will spread the word.    What is a bigger sign of awareness and support than showing up in the hub of our nation’s capital, wearing blue, and documenting this momentous occasion of countless others doing the same?  I am so happy to be a part of it.”

Read the passionate and moving posts on the “Light the White House blue for autism awareness” blog that features incredible posts from Jess, Mrs. Sergeant Major, Suzanne, Kerry, Wills, Laura and Amy.

 

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!

9 More Days Until Light It Up Blue!

March 23, 2011 1 comment

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!

Light the White House Blue

Today we are featuring Wills, a young man with autism, who wrote this heartfelt letter to President Obama urging him to light The White House Blue. He insisted that we make sure the post was in blue, way to go Wills!

Who’s Lighting It Up Blue?

More than 500 buildings and communities are lighting it up blue, including a repeat from last year… the great Fenway Park! Boston fans can rest assured that their Red Sox have joined the campaign again!

Fenway Park Lit Up Blue in 2010 for World Autism Awareness Day

Community Spotlight

Today’s virtual interview is with Kathy D. from Gainesville, Va. 

Autism Speaks: What are you Lighting Up Blue?
Kathy D.: Tenbrook Drive in Gainesville, Va.

AS: Why was the ‘Light It Up Blue’ campaign important to you?
KD: I have a daughter who has autism and is currently in a long-term care facility trying to get “happy and healthy” enough to come back home to her family.

AS: How did you get Tenbrook Drive on board?
KD: I bought my neighbors “Light it up Blue” t-shirts, window clings, pens and glow bracelets. A total of 17 shirts! We plan to gather on April 2 to take a group picture and send it to my daughter. They have all loved and supported her through these tough times. We are all also going to light up our outside lights blue the night of April 1st. So yay for Tenbrook Drive!

AS: Next Year, who else would you like to see participate?
KD: Next year maybe I can get my whole neighborhood to participate instead of one street!

With only 9 days left, what are YOU lighting up blue?


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