Over the last 10 years Autism Speaks has grown as a symbol of our cause and a rallying point for families looking for solutions across the country. As they push through their 10-year anniversary, Bike to the Beach for autism is grateful that our community has contributed in what they have accomplished, but we are more excited for what lies ahead. Angela Gieger has recently been named President and CEO of Autism Speaks. She is crafting a tangible future for the organization. She has refined Autism Speaks’ mission statement and distilled each pillar of their strategic programing.
The new Autism Speaks mission statement is focused on being new, inclusive and forward-thinking. Its hope is to have an easy to articulate impact line and provide consistent messaging about who Autism Speaks is and what they do.
Autism Speaks’ Mission Statement
“Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorders; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorders and related conditions.”
“Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.”
10 years goes by fast, but in 10 years a lot of things change. Over the last 10 years, Bike to the Beach has grown from a few friends into a national fundraising power raising over 3 million dollars for autism related charities. In those 10 years, we have also seen individuals with early diagnoses at 4 years old go through elementary and middle school and enter high school as teenagers. We have seen adolescents grow and look for college and post college transition solutions. And, we have seen young men and women on the spectrum look for housing solutions and parents look for future planning solutions promoting safety, happiness, sustainability, and independence for their children. Throughout each individuals, and our organizations, growth we have looked to Autism Speaks as a sign of hope and direction.
Bike to the Beach is excited about the increased focus on:
- Building upon their incredible awareness work that has made autism a national community and cause. The goal is to move past awareness to understanding and inclusion.
- With their strong foundation in expansive research around the human genome and the understanding that there is not one autism, but my subtypes caused by a combination of genetic and environmental causes. They are committed to a goal to focus on research that leads breakthroughs focused on near-term advancements with tangible improvements in solutions, treatments, and interventions.
- Early diagnoses have been critical to improvements in lifelong solutions. Autism can reliably be diagnosed anywhere from 18 to 24 months of age, but the reality is most children are diagnosed after age 4. Research tells us the earlier a child is diagnosed, the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome for that child. Autism Speaks is increasing focus on timeline screening and decreasing the time from diagnoses to intervention.
- As improvements in childhood and school solutions have made significant strides in the last 10 years, Autism Speaks is reaffirming its focus on the full life span. Over 50,000 teens with autism will exit the school system in 2017. Young adults with autism needs a tailored plan focused on their strengths, needs, challenges and preferences to ensure a successful transition process. They are focused on improving transition to adulthood outcomes across the spectrum.
- Autism Speaks has become a rallying point and reliable source of information. Their Family Services Team has already responded to more than 60,000 questions this year from people with autism, caregivers, educators and the general public looking for resources. From the uncertainty in the days awaiting a diagnosis to the search for housing and employment for older adults, the autism community needs support and encouragement as they face the challenges associated with autism throughout the lifespan. Autism Speaks is reiterating their commitment to facilitating access to reliable information and referrals to community services throughout the lifespan.
Each of these points reflects itself in Bike to the Beach’s community and the impact that we hope to make. Over the next few weeks we will explore each pillar of Autism Speaks’ mission statement, why it is meaningful to Bike to the Beach, and how our values add to that mission. The autism community is at an exciting moment in time. Bike to the Beach is proud to be the fundraising tool that will accelerate and amplify its progress. We are excited about Autism Speaks direction and focus.