Heroes: 10 Moms Who Are Changing the Face of AutismInstead of choosing the path of despair when their children were diagnosed with autism, these inspiring moms took action.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
When Suzanne Wright's 2-year-old grandson, Christian, began forgetting his potty training and losing words, pediatricians said nothing was wrong. After Christian was finally diagnosed with autism in 2004 and Wright began learning more about the disorder, "I was horrified," she says. "Nobody knew how to handle it. Nobody was talking about it."
So in 2005, Suzanne and her husband, Bob, then chairman of NBC, cofounded Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the disorder. Suzanne also shared her story with news pros at NBC, who were inspired to investigate and report on the problem. She lobbied Congress for support, culminating in the 2006 signing of the Combating Autism Act, which promises $920 million in federal funding for autism research and education over five years. Suzanne worked with the Ad Council to create a public awareness campaign. And in 2007, Autism Speaks raised $70 million and committed more than $30 million of that to scientists — making it the nation's top private funder of autism research.
Suzanne's most personal project, however, is helping families that are coping with the disorder. To that end, the Autism Speaks Website, autismspeaks.org, offers these families support tools and social networks; it also provides informative tool kits for schoolteachers and medical professionals.
Next up, Suzanne is taking her message even further. She was one of a group of women from around the globe who proposed a World Autism Awareness Day to the United Nations; the first one was held in April of 2008. "This epidemic is truly global," Suzanne says. "We need to talk about it and find out what's taking a whole generation of children into darkness."
For more information on Autism Speaks, visit autismspeaks.org.
EMPOWERING NEEDY FAMILIES
I can handle this, thought Areva Martin when she learned that her 2-year-old, Marty, had autism. After all, she'd handled lots of challenges as a Los Angeles attorney representing Fortune 500 companies. "But it took months just to work through the maze of resources and information," says Areva. She saw the need for a support network in which parents could share experiences and learn to navigate the system together.
So in 2005, Areva created Special Needs Network (SNN). The organization helps empower poor families in Los Angeles who have a child with a developmental disability by bringing information and events into their communities. SNN also tackles cultural biases that persist in African-American and Latino communities. "Many of these individuals are ashamed about their children's disabilities, so they isolate themselves from mainstream organizations," says Areva. That's why she recruits role models whom members of these lower-income communities admire and trust (such as California congresswoman Diane Watson) to participate in the organization's events and share personal stories.
Since SNN's launch, the nonprofit has served over 10,000 families with events such as resource fairs (for information about available services) and parenting workshops (including one that covers managing a career while raising a disabled child). "The network gives these people hope," says Areva, "and it puts the needs of the underserved on the radar."
Find out more about Special Needs Network at specialneedsnetwork.net.
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
We know—it’s cold outside and you’re dreaming of beaches. Consider this the next best thing: awesome indoor water parks around the world equipped with pools, water slides, swim-up bars, and in some cases, all-year “sunlight.”
Figuring out the best kind of vacation for your family can take a bit of time -- if you're beach people, it's pretty easy. Find a resort, make sure they have cribs and book your tickets. Adventure buffs with older kids can hit a national park and have a total blast, while artsy types might prefer to pick a cosmopolitan city with great museums, restaurants, and some serious insider tips on babysitters. Whatever your preferences for a spring getaway for the family, there's still time! Click through this slideshow for some of our favorite vacation ideas for families, from those with babies and toddlers through to teens. Bon voyage!
Ah, bedtime. That sweet, sweet hour when you pack the kiddos off to dreamland and you get some much-needed "me time." Right? Well, sometimes. Bedtime can also be one of the most stressful times of day. Developing a bedtime ritual is something nearly every baby expert and pediatrician recommends. Children rely on ritual and stability, and it's a huge comfort to them to repeat the same actions every night before bed.You can treat this time of day as a series of hurdles to jump over before the big relief or decide to turn bedtime into a series of sweet moments to cherish daily. Here are our favorite ideas for bedtime rituals that everyone in the family will take comfort in.
Millennials have a notoriously bad rap. In the age of all-encompassing technology, recent generations are often criticized for their affinity for video games, their short attention spans and their selfie-obsession. Such insularity in face of the apex of globalization seems especially troubling. And yet, there may be hope. All conjecture aside, social media has a different story to tell about the leaders of tomorrow. Not too long ago, Malala Yousufzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee in history, but she's not the only wunderkind to watch. Click through this slideshow for our list of today's top ten inspirational kids. We think you'll find Malala's in very good company.
Find yourself wandering the aisles, suddenly needing an owl-shaped candle while drinking a $5 latte? You're not alone, moms...
When it comes to traveling with the family, "adventure" can mean a lot of different things. Just packing the suitcases for a 3-hour flight can be an adventure of its own. And surviving a 5-hour flight with a toddler? That's a whole different kind of adventure (tip: pack snacks). But when your family adventure is good, it can be is really, really good. Sometimes swimming with dolphins or ziplining through the rainforest is just the kind of vacation that will make you forget all about airport hassle, and will get your kids (even the teens) smiling. From hiking the Rockies to white-water rafting, we've found 11 family adventure vacations that will get the adrenaline pumping without driving you crazy.
When you're expecting a baby, preparations can be overwhelming. Decorating is stressful as it is, and when it comes to nurseries, there are the added concerns of reducing sharp edges, use of engaging colors and -- if you're a believer in the powers of feng shui—optimal furniture placement. Luckily, your favorite fashionable A-listers are here with tons of dazzling baby room ideas. Click through this slideshow for more nursery ideas from celebrities, stylists and just plain fashionable moms.
Our Research Institute scouted out the New York City Toy Fair and spotted a few standouts we predict will be topping wish lists shortly.
When we scoped out the New York City Toy Fair, we spotted everything from human-like robots to kid-friendly DIY projects.
Stroll down any aisle of a Toys"R"Us these days and you'll be confronted with a billion options that are light-years beyond anything you had to entertain yourself with as a kid. Lego cruise ships (complete with flatscreen TVs in the lounge and sideboard jet-skis), battery-operated Mercedes-Benz sedans, and hi-tech tablets with Android operating systems abound. We wondered, as we let ourselves get nostalgic for a moment, if any of the beloved toys we played with as children were still even on the market. Thanks to a quick hunt on the Internet we were able to find that Fisher Price still makes their classic Two Tune TV, and you can still get your hands on a good ol' Slinky. Here's a roundup of the best old-school toys for kids-- we encourage you to click through the slideshow and consider wrapping up a well-loved classic for your little one this year.
Not great with a budget? Don't sweat it. Try these simple ways to save.