Since Printsocial’s inception, Autism Speaks has worked with us as part of our Print with Purpose™ program. This means that you have the opportunity to donate 5% of your order to this amazing organization. Here at Printsocial, we believe it’s important to share these stories so others can learn more about their causes and the impact they have on our community.
WHAT IS AUTISM?
According to the Autism Speaks website, autism or autism spectrum disorder, “refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.”
Their website explains that there are many subtypes of autism; because of this, each autistic person possesses unique strengths and challenges.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 68 children falls on the autism spectrum.
“No child is going to look the same and no adult is going to look the same, so what therapy and what treatment option that helps them may not help someone else,” Autism Speaks Executive Director of the Carolinas, Kelli Embler, said.
WHAT IS AUTISM SPEAKS?
Autism Speaks believes in “enhancing lives today and accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.”
The organization was founded in 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Since merging with Cure Autism Now, the National Alliance for Autism Research, and the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, Autism Speaks has built upon their legacy and made extraordinary achievements by “increasing global awareness of autism; advocating access to care and support; and funding research that has resulted in a better understanding of the breadth of the autism spectrum.”
Autism Speaks uses a blue puzzle piece as part of its logo.
“As far as the puzzle piece significance, there’s no one absolute cure or one absolute identifying marker, so it’s solving the pieces of the puzzle,” Lauren Kidder, Autism Speaks Carolinas Senior Coordinator-Field Development, said.
Kidder further explained that the puzzle piece is blue because boys are 4x more likely to get diagnosed with autism. And from a branding standpoint, blue is one of the most widely recognized colors on television.
POWERED BY LOVE
Both Embler and Kidder are passionate about their work in the autistic community.
Embler holds an extensive background working with children with autism.
“I taught dance for kids with special needs,” Embler said. “I wanted to have my own dance studio; I was going to be in business and dance. And then I just kind of fell in love with the [autism] population and was drawn to special education. I’ve worked in special education for 20 years now.”
Kidder also has dedicated her time to her philanthropic beliefs. Her experience involves working with various non-profits since her high school years.
“I decided to change careers to focus on the nonprofit world. Being on the spectrum is a lifelong disorder. It’s important to remember that it’s a life spectrum,” she said.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT
For the past six years, the local Autism Speaks has held their walk at the ZMAX Dragway.
According to Kidder, it’s the largest autism fundraising event in North and South Carolina, hosting typically 8,000 attendees, covering the great Charlotte area. This year, the walk, sponsored by Alpha XI Delta, will take place on Oct. 28, 2017.
“Something that makes the event extra special is that we’ve moved over the last year or so to making it a truly autism friendly event,” Kidder said. “So, we keep the noise level down as much as you can with 8,000 people—lots of silent cheering— and really allowing the kids and adults on the spectrum to feel comfortable in their environment.”
According to Kidder, the event is grassroots fundraising at its best.
“We’re really dependent on them to get the word out and build awareness,” she said. “They fundraise, they get their colleagues involved, their friends and family, their neighbors, schools; it’s a pretty remarkable thing to witness.”
For more information about how to volunteer with Autism Speaks, visit http://act.autismspeaks.org/charlotte.