New York, NY (PRWEB) April 02, 2013
Imagine if the world’s lights turned blue to show support and raise awareness for the more than three million Americans who currently live with an autism spectrum disorder? Today, Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, hopes to do just that with the launch of its fourth-annual Light It Up Blue (LIUB) campaign, a global initiative to raise funds and increase awareness of autism.
Tonight, to mark World Autism Awareness Day, Autism Speaks kicks-off the campaign with more than 7,000 iconic structures and landmarks in 90 countries shining a bright blue spotlight on autism. Participating landmarks include the Empire State Building and George Washington Bridge in New York City, Niagara Falls in Canada and Burj Al Arab in Dubai. This year, Autism Speaks continues its quest to make Light It Up Blue bigger, bluer and better than ever before, by asking individuals, retailers and corporations worldwide to proudly shine a light on autism throughout the month of April – Autism Awareness Month – in their own personal way.
“In 2010 I turned my porch light blue for the first time,” said Jennifer Bunt-Chronister, whose daughter was diagnosed with autism at age four. “Two years later more than 300 consecutive homes in what we now call our ‘Blue-evard’ will shine bright blue. Light It Up Blue has given me a great platform to raise awareness for autism in my community and I hope others will be inspired to do the same this April.”
Supporters can join the initiative by participating in any of three ways:
Prevalence Rates on the Rise
The fastest-growing, serious developmental disability in the United States, autism currently has no cure – however a new Centers for Disease Control survey of parents indicates that 1 in 50 school-age children has an autism spectrum disorder. The new estimate is significantly higher than the official government estimate of 1 in 88 American children. “This number does not replace the official 1 in 88 estimate, but does suggest that we may be significantly underestimating autism prevalence in the U.S.," says Autism Speaks Associate Director of Public Health Research Michael Rosanoff, M.P.H. “One in fifty, or two percent, is much closer to what we’ve seen from research that involves directly screening children in the community.”
However, the recent government announcement of an $85 billion federal spending “sequester” means cuts to vital research and services for all those with autism. The cuts will specifically impact special education, housing and research programs, and even employment support for those affected by the disorder. This news follows recent estimates that on average, autism costs a family $60,000 annually.**
“Growing prevalence rates demand that we increase our support for autism,” said Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks. “With this year’s Light It Up Blue campaign we hope to go beyond awareness and fundraising, and make our greatest impact yet by inspiring leaders in government to implement the national plan for increased funding, services and support that is so desperately needed.”
At the state level, the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City will be illuminated the entire month of April, the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix will participate for the first time and major events are planned at the state capitols in Tennessee, Minnesota, Nebraska and Massachusetts.
Philanthropic Partners Offer Support
This month, Autism Speaks’ corporate sponsors will offer essential awareness and fundraising support. As the largest partner of Autism Speaks, Toys“R”Us, Inc. will conduct its “Shine A Light For Autism” fundraising campaign between April 1 and April 30 at more than 870 Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks. As the national sponsor of the Walk Now For Autism Speaks program, Toys“R”Us is also inviting individuals to join a Walk event in their local community. And, for the first time, those who are unable to attend an event in person can still fundraise as they “Walk With Geoffrey” virtually at WalkNowForAutismSpeaks.org/Geoffrey. In addition, the world’s leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer is offering the “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism” list, created in partnership with Autism Speaks, which includes toy suggestions that help build various skills and aid in the development of children with autism.
Other partners offering their support this Autism Awareness Month include:
About World Autism Awareness Day
On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly, by unanimous consent, passed the resolution designating April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in perpetuity starting in 2008. The Resolution encouraged UN Member States to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout society, to promote early diagnosis and early behavioral intervention and acknowledges the high rate of autism in all regions of the world and the consequent development challenges to long term health care, education, training and intervention programs.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former Vice Chairman of General Electric and Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.
*Charges will appear on your wireless bill, or be deducted from your prepaid balance. Must be authorized by account owner. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Msg & Data Rates May Apply.
** According to information presented at an Autism Speaks cost of autism summit.