Archive for December, 2009

This Emotional Life – Tune In!

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a guest blog post from our friends at Vulcan Productions and NOVA/WGBH…

On the eve of a new year, as millions of Americans search for more meaning in their lives, Vulcan Productions and NOVA/WGBH have teamed with Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness, Professor Daniel Gilbert, to produce This Emotional Life.

This Emotional Life is a two-year outreach campaign anchored by a three-part, national broadcast series on PBS (airing Jan. 4-6, 2010) that examines the science behind our emotions, the challenges to our well-being and the keys to leading happier lives. We are so excited to engage the Autism Speaks community in our campaign. Everyone who lives with autism understands what an emotional journey it can be. This campaign aims to provide individuals with resources to make that journey a little easier.

Spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions, the project includes the PBS series – which features compelling personal stories and cutting edge research, along with revealing insights from celebrities including Larry David, Alanis Morissette, Robert Kennedy Jr., Chevy Chase and Richard Gere – a dynamic and content-rich website, a national outreach campaign and educational toolkits created to support topics within the series.

The first show focuses on relationships – how they’re built and why they’re important to human happiness. One of the stories in this first show is about Jason, a 29-year old man with Asperger’s syndrome. Jason discusses his constant struggle reading others’ emotions and signals, making it difficult for him to form relationships. He shares his daily struggle to be successful in social situations, a common issue for people with autism spectrum disorders. His story offers viewers a glimpse into the difficulties and frustrations those living with autism often face in their everyday interactions. You can take a look at some of Jason’s story here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The campaign will continue on for two years post-broadcast. Through our website, the distribution of our early childhood attachment and military family toolkits, and several other initiatives, we will continue to promote the mission of this project. We are partnering with great organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America, the Mayo Clinic and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.

You can view the trailer and learn more about the program on the “This Emotional Life” web site.

It is our hope that this campaign will offer you and your families support – whether it is through relating to stories like Jason’s, or visiting our website and finding information, resources in your area, or support from people just like you.

For more information, go to

Drew Lachey and Autism Speaks

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Recently, Drew Lachey played “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” and chose Autism Speaks as his charity. He didn’t want to risk losing his winnings and smartly walked away with $5,500! We didn’t find the actual game clip but did find an interview where Drew talks about his support of Autism Speaks (although the number he quotes has changed since the interview from 1 in 150 to 1 in 110).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thanks Drew, you rock!

“Road Trip” on 34th Street

December 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Zales, NYC

A few days ago, we took a quick “road trip” down 34th street in New York City to visit Zales, one of our wonderful partners. Zales, as you may know is promoting their “Shared Heart” collection and are donating a portion of every purchase to Autism Speaks.

As we walked down 34th Street and stopped to gawk at the huge “Believe” sign on the side of Macy’s, we were thrilled to see the front door of Zales covered in Autism Speaks logos.

To learn more and get last minute gifts, find a Zales in your area or shop the Autism Speaks official e-store.

Happy holidays!

The 12 Days of Autism Christmas

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

The comments and reactions from Shannon’s poem are absolutely incredible; keep them coming! Last night we got this e-mail from Diana who is on the Autism Speaks leadership council and is also in Conn.

On the 1st day of Christmas, autism gave to me… a brand new IEP

On the 2nd day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 2 hours of stimming

On the 3rd day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 3 hours of therapy

On the 4th day of Christmas, Autism gave to me… 4 hours of sleep at night

On the 5th day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 5 MARBLE RUNS (since Carter is OBSESSED)

On the 6th day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 6 major meltdowns

On the 7th day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 7 social stories

On the 8th day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 8 candles to talk about (but we don’t celebrate Hanukkah, honey …)

On the 9th day of Christmas, Autism gave to me… 9 cars all lined up in a row

On the 10th day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 10 lines from Toy Story – over, and over, and over again

On the 11th day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 11 different teachers

On the 12th day of Christmas, autism gave to me… 12 insurance claim denials

Happy Holidays to all … and may we get to the New Year with our sanity intact!

Thanks Diana!

Do you have a story you want to tell or want to write a guest blog post for Autism Speaks? Leave a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

‘Twas the Night Before D-Day

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

A big part of why we created this blog was to give a voice to our volunteers, staff and those affected by autism.  Shannon’s poem is our first guest blog post and a timely one at that.

Shannon is the mom to three boys and Jack (8.5) has autism. She is also the Connecticut Advocacy chair, and the Greater Hartford Walk Now for Autism Speaks Chair.

“He was diagnosed 6 years ago today and my heart was very heavy all day yesterday thinking about it because 6 years later not much has changed. The numbers are higher and the people in positions to aggressively put and end to autism are still qualifying it’s existence.”

 Here is Shannon’s adaptation of the classic Christmas poem:

(Shannon refers to the day Jack received his Diagnosis as D-Day.)

‘Twas the night before D-Day, and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, well except for the mouse

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

With hope that they wouldn’t be thrown through the air

All but one of the children, nestled all snug in their beds

Weighted blankets and melatonin could not calm his head

And mamma in her fleece, dad wearing his cap

They knew they would be awake for a while, no chance of a nap

When upstairs in Jack’s room, there arose such a clatter

Mom and dad flew up the stairs to see what was the matter

Up the staircase they flew like a flash

Passed crayon on the wall, and piles of trash

And there in Jack’s room, wouldn’t you know

A fractured alarm clock, he was upset by its glow

And what to our wondering eyes should appear,

The emptied bookcase on the floor, he wanted it there

With a cry of frustration, so piercing and shrill

Mom and dad heard the echo of others saying “can’t you just give him a pill?”

More rapid than eagles his tears they came

And he screamed, and howled and called us cruel names

“I’m leaving! I hate you! I’m running away”

Everyone hates me! I’m a loser, they say!”

To the end of the street! To the end of the block!

The screaming and yelling, it made the house rock.

So, into our arms, we hugged our boy close

Hoping we had the right sensory dose

And then, in a twinkling, we heard through our tears

“I’d like some water and to watch Sponge Bob downstairs”

As we drew in our breath, and were calming our hearts

We muttered, and cursed these Aspergerian parts

They were confusing, irrational, scary and quick

This disorder called autism, we had not picked.

A bundle of baby boy with whom we’d been blessed

Now 1 in 70 of autism’s unwelcome guests

His eyes how they twinkled! – his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

And the cleft of his chin was as perfect as gold

We would love this sweet boy, until we were old

Now the stump of a chewstick, he held tight in his teeth

Perseverating and stimming at the tinsel on the wreath

He had a round face, and a little round belly

Would only eat peanut butter and jelly.

He was inappropriate and goofy a right jolly old elf

And I laughed when he said things, in spite of myself;

A blink of his eye, a smirk on his lips

A shimmy, a swagger a shake of the hips

He did not always have words, but wanted to work

On painting, and reading and some other fun quirks,

Sometimes he’d put his finger inside of his nose,

Look to us for a nod, and we’d shake our heads “no!”

He jumps up and down, in his joy shrieks a whistle,

And he laughs, and he laughs, with not so much as a bristle.

And we’ve heard him exclaim, more often than not

“My name is Jack and I can do the Robot!”

– Shannon, Conn.

Do you have a story you want to tell or want to write a guest blog post for Autism Speaks? Leave a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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