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
What one mom learned about herself might just change your world
From Ryan Gosling earrings to portable speakers, there's something here for kids of all ages.
When it comes to holiday giving, it's the thought that counts, which is why homemade gifts from kids are so treasured by their mothers. Children might not have money to spend on an expensive piece of jewelry or designer handbag, but they do have the time to DIY something special for their number one fan. If you're in charge of helping the little ones think of presents, check out the above list of homemade gifts for mom. From a custom vase to Instagram coasters to Warhol-inspired wall art, we have something for every taste and skill level.
At our household, we have a large, diverse collection of toys. While I’m not as uptight as my husband on what enters our kids’ toy chest, my husband must approve all toy acquisitions mostly because of aesthetics (appearance is important). In our search for functional and stylish toys, the sustainable ones often have the best design, and appeal to the visual and tactile senses or improve fine motor skills such as dexterity and hand coordination. Here are a few of our family favorites that intrigue and hold our little ones’ attention—and look good, too.
Worried that a violent video game might sneak its way into your shopping cart during the holidays? Before you make it to the register, make sure you're armed with all the information you need regarding your child's games. Just because your well-meaning thirteen-year-old promises you that the game he's about to buy with the gift card from Uncle Mike is totally chill, doesn't mean it's good for kids. Do your research ahead of time to avoid any game store drama. And have a chat with your offspring before the big day; let them know that you're going to have to green light their choices before they get their hearts set on any particular item. At the end of the day, you're just being a good parent. Some of the games on the market now may look OK at first glance, but are actually quite objectionable. Trust us: We've done our homework and we're here to give you the ultimate low-down. Check out this slideshow for all the games to steer clear of this season. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Two sociologists have found that parents who have daughters are more inclined to support the GOP and turn a cold shoulder to Democrats.
The experts at Nameberry.com predict what will be big in baby-naming next year
Famed event-planner David Stark shared tips for making chic holiday decorations using items you already have around the house. Take a look!
Sociologist Karen Z. Kramer found that over the past decade more than 550,000 men were stay-at-home fathers, which is about 3.5 percent of the married with kids population.
Ben Miller celebrates his wife's birthday and the anniversary of the day their premature son Ward Miles came home for good with a video documenting his first year.
Adopting an animal is a major commitment. Yet all too often people put more effort into researching what kind of car to get than the type of pet that would best fit their lifestyle.