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Posts Tagged ‘World Autism Awareness Day’

World Autism Awareness Day at Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

April 3, 2011 2 comments

The Intrepid played host this morning to a press conference and family event for those affected by autism. Children from Pelham Middle School joined children with autism from schools around NYC and N.J. to celebrate WAAD on April 2. Owen Saunders, a student at Pelham Middle School, created the song Light It Up Blue and got his classmates to sing it. Autism Speaks recorded the kids singing the song and created a video that has gone viral around the world! The father of a child with autism in Argentina translated the song into Spanish and it is being sung in Spain and Argentina to celebrate WAAD today.

The students sang their heart-warming song today to an audience that included guest speakers Suzanne and Bob Wright – who were joined by the children and grandchildren, Senator Robert Menendez (NJ), and the president of the Intrepid Susan Marenoff-Zausner. They received a standing ovation at the conclusion of their performance. Plus visit the Pix 11 blog to see the students’ performance from April 1.

Guests and Intrepid visitors were also able to try out Autism Speaks brand new interactive awareness ad created by BBDO with the Ad Council. The display invites people to try to make eye contact with a young girl on the screen to demonstrate an early warning sign of autism.

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Empire State Building Lights Up Blue

April 1, 2011 10 comments

On April 1,  Autism Speaks volunteers and supporters went the Empire State Building to flip the ceremonial switch to turn the building’s lights blue for the second year in a row. Bob and Suzanne Wright greeted the crowd and spoke about the over 1000 buildings around the world that are turning blue tonight in celebration of the fourth annual World Autism Awareness Day. They were joined by Emil Jensen Perez, a young man with autism who asked the Empire State Building to light blue for autism in 2008. Emil’s family are top walkers in the Westchester Walk Now for Autism Speaks. In addition, Grammy Award-winning singer and mother of a 9 year old boy with autism Toni Braxton greeted the crowd and shared her story of when her son was diagnosed.

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Presidential Proclamation – World Autism Awareness Day

April 1, 2011 19 comments

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY, 2011

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

With autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affecting nearly one percent of children in the United States, autism is an urgent public health issue with a profound impact on millions of Americans. World Autism Awareness Day is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of individuals with ASDs and rededicate ourselves to the cause of understanding and responding to autism.

Men and women on the autism spectrum have thrived and excelled in communities across America and around the world. Yet, despite great progress in understanding ASDs, challenges remain for these individuals and their loved ones. For too long, the needs of people living with autism and their families have gone without adequate support and understanding. While we continue to encourage the development of resources for children on the autism spectrum and provide necessary resources for their families, we must also remember that young people with ASDs become adults with ASDs who deserve our support, our respect, and the opportunity to realize their highest aspirations.

As our understanding of the autism spectrum grows, my Administration remains dedicated to supporting children and adults impacted by autism. Led by the Department of Health and Human Services, we have expanded investments in autism research, public health tracking, early detection, and services — from early intervention for children to improved long-term services and support programs for adults. My Administration maintains a firm commitment to advance autism research and treatment, as well as promote education, employment, and equality for all individuals with autism, from early childhood through employment and community life. We will continue to work with the Congress, experts, and families to improve Federal and State programs that assist individuals with ASDs and their families and to bolster the impact and reach of community support and services. I encourage all Americans to visit http://www.HHS.gov/autism for more information and resources on ASDs.

With each breakthrough in research and each innovative treatment, we open endless possibilities for the many American families who have been touched by autism. As we mark World Autism Awareness Day, let us recommit to improving the lives of individuals and families impacted by ASDs and creating a world free from discrimination where all can achieve their fullest potential.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2 of each year as World Autism Awareness Day. I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about autism and what they can do to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

See How the World Is Lighting It Up Blue

April 1, 2011 59 comments

On April 1 and April 2 buildings all over the world were lit in bright blue to help kick off Autism Awareness Month and celebrate World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.  Visit lightitupblue.org for more photos and information.  See a list of the more than 1000 buildings participating in Light It Up Blue and find out about national fundraising and awareness initiatives from Autism Speaks’ partners. Watch an interview with Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speak, from NBA TV, and see how the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs celebrated the day.  See how “The Talk” lit it up blue on April 1 and see photos and video from etnies’ free skateboarding clinic for children with autism.

Read a Presidential Proclamation about World Autism Awareness Day.

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CBS Early Show

Suzanne Wright on the Early Show

Autism Speaks opened World Autism Awareness Day, April 2,  on the CBS Saturday Early Show. Bob and Suzanne Wright were guests of anchors Russ Mitchell and Rebecca Jarvis on their Early Coffee segment. They shared that over 1000 buildings in the U.S. and around the world turned blue last night and will again tonight to celebrate WAAD.  When asked “what do you want people to know about autism,” Suzanne Wright said “1 in 110 … the numbers are staggering,” Bob answered the question of “What is the biggest challenge you would like to overcome with autism?” by saying “If we can get real good research and translate it into drugs and therapies we can have enormous impact – what helps a child helps an adult.”  See the clip here.

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Students Singing at the Intrepid

The Intrepid played host this morning to a press conference and family event for those affected by autism. Children from Pelham Middle School joined children with autism from schools around NYC and N.J. to celebrate WAAD on April 2. Owen Saunders, a student at Pelham Middle School, created the song Light It Up Blue and got his classmates to sing it. Autism Speaks recorded the kids singing the song and created a video that has gone viral around the world! The father of a child with autism in Argentina translated the song into Spanish and it is being sung in Spain and Argentina to celebrate WAAD today.The students sang their heart-warming song today to an audience that included guest speakers Suzanne and Bob Wright – who were joined by the children and grandchildren, Senator Robert Menendez (NJ), and the president of the Intrepid Susan Marenoff-Zausner. They received a standing ovation at the conclusion of their performance. Plus visit the Pix 11 blog to see the students’ performance from April 1

Guests and Intrepid visitors were also able to try out Autism Speaks’ brand new interactive awareness ad created by BBDO with the Ad Council. The display invites people to try to make eye contact with a young girl on the screen to demonstrate an early warning sign of autism.

NYSE Opening Bell

Global Bell Ringing Across NYSE Euronext Markets in Honor of World Autism Awareness Day

On the morning of April 1,  Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, and Toni Braxton, six time Grammy Award-winner and Autism Speaks spokesperson, along with other supporters, were on hand to ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange.  Watch video here.

Empire State Building

Autism Speaks volunteers and supporters gathered at the Empire State Building to flip the ceremonial switch to turn the lights blue for the second year in a row. Bob and Suzanne Wright and Toni Braxton addressed the crowd.  Read more and see photos.

Light It Up Blue is TOMORROW

March 31, 2011 11 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!

Tune in for CBS’s The Talk

CBS’s popular talk show “The Talk” will feature the first of four weekly segments about autism on Friday’s show. Holly Robinson Peete, co-founder of the Holly Rod Foundation, Autism Speaks Board member, and co-host of “The Talk” will share her personal story about when her son RJ was diagnosed with autism. Peter Bell will join her!

Who’s Lighting It Up Blue?

Autism Speaks would like to thank the Empire State Building for the special lighting on the evening of April 1, 2010 in celebration of the third annual United Nations World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Learn more about the Empire State Building at www.esbnyc.com. The Empire State Building design is a trademark of ESBC and is used with permission.
Visit www.lightitupblue.org to get pledge your support and get involved!

 

 

Community Spotlight

 

Today’s virtual interview is with Lisa G. from Little Egg Harbor, N.J.

Autism Speaks: What are you Lighting Up Blue?
Lisa G.: My House!

AS: Why are you lighting your home blue?
LG: My daughter has Aspergers and I want to show my support for her and everyone else afflicted and affected by autism.  I also want to share my support with my neighborhood/community. I am working on getting every home on my block to “Light it Up Blue” by offering them free blue light bulbs!

AS: How did you go about lighting up your block?
LG: I purchased my bulbs at Home Depot and am searching for blue Christmas lights to wrap around my porch and front of my home.

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

RSVP to Light It Up Blue!

Why Autism is Important to Me

March 31, 2011 19 comments

This is a guest post by Darrin Steele, the Chief Executive Officer of the USA Bobsled Team and father of a son with autism.

I have spent the better part of my life figuring out how to out-compete other people. I did it as an athlete and now I do it on their behalf as we represent the nation in bobsled and skeleton. I have taken those same skills and applied them to my career, my education and now to my children as I help them succeed. Seems like a pretty basic concept, right? You compete, you try to win, end of story. Not quite. When you drill down a level and ask a few questions, things get a little messy. What do you win? How do you know if you won? How do you define success? Is there only one winner? What does 2nd place get you? What if the competition is weak? What if it is great?

I was taught a valuable lesson on this very topic from a freshman girl on the high school track team I coached while training for the 1998 Olympics. I was competing against the best in the world; so some of these high school athletes provided quite a contrast.  One such athlete was Sara. Sara was a sweet girl and near as I could tell, had no detectable athletic ability whatsoever. Throughout the season, Sara had tried and failed at almost every event she attempted, but she never seemed to get discouraged. In the final meet of the season she told me she wanted to run the 2-mile. When I asked her if she was sure and gently reminded her that she had gotten lapped in the 1-mile race the week prior, she just smiled and said, “Yep, I want to do it.”  So, I reluctantly entered her in the race.

It was painful to watch. My heart was breaking as she ran the final lap by herself. As I waited for her at the finish line, I tried to think of a way to console her after failing in yet another event. I was clapping as she finished when something happened that I’ll never forget. The moment she crossed the finish line, her arms shot up in the air and she looked at me with a beaming smile and shouted, “I did it!” As she hugged me, I finally understood. She had no delusions of beating anyone in that race. She had never run that far before and her goal was simply to finish. We are inundated with medal counts and win/loss records from all around us, but what truly drives us and what truly matters is the challenge we put on ourselves. For some, this internal challenge will result in Olympic medals. For most it will not, but that challenge is no less important. Society loves to help us define success, but the truth is that it is individual and personal. I was feeling sorry for Sara all season, but I was wrong. She may have finished last in every race, but she didn’t lose once. She just might have had a most successful season on that team.

That concept has special meaning during the month of April. April is Autism Awareness month and for thousands of autistic kids, personal challenges are simply part of their lives. In a world where we are wired to win and strive for success, where does an autistic child fit in? The answer is simple. Like with Sara, success is defined by the individual and has less to do with the finish line than the journey it takes to get there. Or, in the words of the Olympic Creed,

[“…the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”]

Very often, understanding something as complex as autism requires a face and a name. For this, I will introduce my son, Darrin Khan.

He is in kindergarten now and we have essentially thrown out the playbook. Autism has put him more than 2 years behind his classmates. He likes to arrange his toys by color and lines them up in patterns that make perfect sense to him. He can become fixated on certain things and has his share of meltdowns. His speaking ability is improving, but he has a long way to go before he will be having conversations. Most people are satisfied with the idea that this is who he is. Those are all traits that we can attribute to autism and while they are a part of who he is, they are not how we define him. If all you hear are the words he can’t say then you haven’t heard him. If all you see are his limitations, then you haven’t seen him. If all you know is that he is different from other five year olds, then you don’t know him. And that’s too bad, because like most autistic kids, he is amazing.

Those who do know him also know that he loves to laugh and make other people laugh. They know that when he kisses you he might slip you the tongue, and then laugh hysterically at your reaction. They know that he sprints from place to place because he can’t wait for his next adventure; that he says “cookie” all the time because he knows he will get tickled for saying it and that he gets sad when he sees someone else sad. They know that at the age of three he could complete puzzles faster than his older sisters and could memorize entire TV shows and movies. They know he is sweet, his heart is big and he is full of personality.

As we struggle to learn his language and he struggles to learn ours in a world that he doesn’t fully understand, my son continues to teach as much as he learns. He doesn’t have the same hang-ups about his future as we do and he doesn’t really care about competing with other people. He is all about right now. He is about having fun, laughing, getting chased, going for airplane rides, riding his bike faster than we can run, dancing without shame to whatever Wiggles song is playing and living in the moment with no thought of tomorrow.

With autism, the future is unknown. There are plenty of autistic children who are able to overcome enough of their challenges that they can live on their own and thrive in society. There are also plenty who are not able to live independently and need assistance for the rest of their lives. Those are very different futures.

The future will come and we’ll do our best to help make it a great one. He has a long road with no finish line in sight and we don’t know how far he will go or how fast. Our job is to support him along the way and enjoy the ride. After all, that is what being a kid is all about; regardless of the hand life has dealt you.

One in 110 children born today will be autistic. This is a cause that I have a personal connection to and USA Bobsled & Skeleton is proud to be partnered with Autism Speaks. On April 1st and 2nd, the nation will be “Lighting it up Blue” as part of the autism awareness program. Home Depot is featuring blue light bulbs as part of this program and millions of Americans will be lighting up their homes, neighborhoods and businesses in support.

Autism is not the only challenge in the world but for the month of April and for these two days, I am supporting this program and asking others to join me in this effort to Light it up Blue. The idea is not to pity these kids or these families. The idea is to educate society about this disorder and

these strange, unique, misunderstood and wonderful kids who have a few more challenges than the rest of us. Give them some understanding, some patience and every once in a while a little help. At the end of the day, they are still just kids who want to be kids. Let’s help give them that.

For more information about the Light it up Blue, please visit website.

Tune in To “The Talk” Friday, April 1

March 31, 2011 3 comments

CBS’s popular talk show “The Talk” will feature the first of four weekly segments about autism on Friday’s show. April 1 is not only the eve of World Autism Awareness Day, but it is also the first day of Autism Awareness Month. Holly Robinson Peete, co-founder of the Holly Rod Foundation, Autism Speaks Board member, and co-host of “The Talk” will share her personal story about when her son RJ was diagnosed with autism. Autism Speaks Executive Vice President Peter Bell will then join  Holly to discuss autism and what families can do after a diagnosis as well as talk about World Autism Awareness Day and the Light It Up Blue initiative.

Read a release from CBS describing the whole series here.

Check your local listings for the time near you!

 

Holly Robinson Peete and Peter Bell

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