To increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders; to fund research into the causes, prevention, and treatments for autism; and to advocate for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
About the Organization:
Autism Speaks was founded by Bob Wright, vice chairman of General Electric and former CEO of NBC, and his wife, Suzanne — grandparents of a child with autism. The organization merged with the Autism Coalition for Research and Education in 2005, the National Alliance for Autism Research in 2006, and Cure Autism Now in 2007. Today, it is now the nation's largest private funder of autism research, making grants of $30 million last year alone, and is one of the world's largest autism advocacy organizations, with chapters in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The Family Services program is designed to help families maximize their child's developmental potential and improve his or her quality of life. Services include a free 100 Day Kit for parents of children newly diagnosed with autism; the Autism Response Team, whose members are specially trained to connect families with information, resources, and opportunities; the Federal Legal Appeal Project, which offers free legal aid to families that are appealing their Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act-based hearings; and the Community Grants Program, which supports organizations that provide services for individuals with autism. The Science initiative funds research, promotes cross-disciplinary cooperation, organizes research summits, and establishes standards for data collection and management. Programs through the Science initiative include the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, the Autism Treatment Network, and the Interactive Autism Network, which links researchers and families. The Government Relations program provides legislative advocacy and disseminates news. The organization's signature fundraising and awareness event is Walk Now for Autism, which includes a virtual walk.
The Autism Speaks Web site features a video glossary of more than a hundred video clips that show the subtle differences between typical and delayed development in young children, a guide to treatments, and information about teens and adults with autism. The site also provides many resources for families, including local services listed by state.
Autism Speaks is supported by individuals, corporations, and foundations.