Take Action for Autism
Get Involved: Autism Awareness Events
If you’d like to get more involved in raising awareness of autism-spectrum disorders, mark these events on your calendar:
- Autism Walks. Lace up those sneakers! Walk Now for Autism Speaks holds walks across the U.S. and in Canada to spread awareness and fundraise for autism advocacy and research. If you can’t get enough of getting outside and moving, find your local Autism Society chapter for more walks and events.
- National Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society has been celebrating this every April since the 1970s, educating the public about autism and issues related to the disorder. The society’s local chapter event calendar can keep you up-to-date on autism-related events all year round.
- World Autism Awareness Day. This global event held on April 2nd is currently in its fourth year. For the 2011 event, Autism Speaks held a “Light It Up Blue” campaign, getting over 120 cities in 25 countries around the world to shine blue lights on iconic landmarks to raise awareness of autism-spectrum disorders – one 13-year-old with autism even wrote to President Obama to ask if he’d consider turning the White House blue for one night.
- Autism Society’s National Conference and Exposition. Now in its 42nd year, this annual conference brings families, teachers, and professionals to address issues within the autism community. The 2011 Autism Society conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, from July 6-9.
How to Give Back: Autism Charities and Causes
Some worthwhile charities to check out:
- Organization for Autism Research. This organization funds studies and research targeted towards issues affected the autism community. OAR holds several runs for autism throughout the year and had a goal of raising $1 million for autism research in 2010.
- Autism Society. The Autism Society is a prominent grassroots organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and helping those with autism. Donations help support autism education, advocacy, research, and families living with autism. Car, stock, and workplace donations are also accepted.
- Autism Speaks. Perhaps the most well-known of autism-related charities, Autism Speaks lives up to its reputation: in the past few years, the organization has led the Autism Genome Project, spread awareness during World Autism Awareness Day, and raised over $24.5 million in 2009 alone during its Walk Now for Autism Speaks events.
- Global Autism Project. Autism isn’t confined to the fifty states – the GAP’s mission is to provide services to individuals with autism in under-served communities around the world that lack the proper resources to adequately address the symptoms of the disorder.
In Good Company: Celebrities on the Autism Spectrum
With prominent charities and well-attended events, autism is one of the most publicized disabilities in the country. Contributing to that widespread awareness is the list of celebrities affected by Asperger’s syndrome and other spectrum disorders. Actress Claire Danes recently picked up a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Temple Grandin, a brilliant professor and animal scientist with autism who is known for helping parents encourage their autistic children to get the most out of life. Many celebrity families are also affected by autism – as most of us know, Jenny McCarthy‘s son has (or had) ASD, and Jett Travolta, the late son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston, was also autistic. Football fan? Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino has an autistic son and has organized charitable events for autism-related disorders.