The United Nations has designated April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day, and today a number of notable retailers are contributing their support for Autism Speaks, the nation's leader in Autism research, awareness and advocacy.
Just four days ago, the CDC released a new statistic for the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States: 1 in 68 children are now being diagnosed with ASD, a shocking 30% increase from last year, when the disorder was declared an epidemic. More children will be diagnosed with Autism this year than AIDS, Cancer, and Diabetes combined, yet funding for Autism research represents only 0.6% of the NIH annual budget.
Autism Spectrum Disorder includes a range of developmental disabilities that cause challenges with language and communication, social interaction, and behavior. These challenges significantly impact a child's education and the everyday lives of that child's family, and children who are diagnosed now will continue to need support in the future. The efforts of Autism Speaks are essential in identifying prevention and treatment methods, aiding in early diagnosis and intervention, raising public awareness, and providing support and hope for families who are affected.
Here's what you can do to help:
Proceeds from the Autism Speaks Store directly support the efforts of Autism Speaks. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, You can get 10% off your purchase of $50 or more with code ATLIUB2014. This Recyclable Shopper Tote is only $5, and there are pins, stickers, apparel, and a selection of other gift items to get your purchase total up to $50.
Autism Speaks encourages people everywhere to shine a light on autism this April by joining participating buildings in major cities across the world in an effort to draw attention to the cause. You can light up or home or office by purchasing Autism Speaks Blue Lightbulbs at Home Depot. Light up your child's bedroom with the specially-marked Autism Speaks Night Light, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Autism Speaks.
This week, Sevenly will donate $7 for every item of apparel that you purchase to Autism Speaks. The Women's Light-it-up-Blue V-Neck is $24, and there are a selection of tees and sweatshirts for men, women, and kids that all support the cause.
Zales is supporting Autism Speaks by donating a portion of the proceeds from their specially designed Autism Speaks beads for use with Persona charm bracelets. For every bead that you purchase, $10 will be contributed to the efforts of Autism Speaks. The pictured Sterling Silver Oxidized Autism Speaks Bead and the Sterling Silver Blue Enamel Autism Speaks Dangle Bead are both just $40.
On sale now at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores, the Nest Blue Garden Autism Candle, $34, and Reed Diffuser, $38, have the aroma of blue hydrangea, hyacinth, and forget-me-nots, and 10% of the proceeds from each purchase are donated to Autism Speaks. Founder and CEO of Nest Fragrances, Laura Slatkin, is dedicated to the cause. "Our Blue Garden Luxury Gift Set celebrates Autism Awareness Month and Mother's Day with a fragrance so beautiful it reminds us that, no matter what challenges we are faced with, there are so many wonderful things in life for which we are grateful," said Slatkin. The president and CEO of Neiman Marcus group commented, "We all know someone who deals with the challenges of autism everyday, whether it is a family member, friend or colleague."
We applaud Toys "R" Us for providing a $600,000 grant to Autism Speaks to commemorate Autism Awareness month. The Toys "R" Us Children's Fund, along with contributions from customers, has provided almost $19 million to Autism Speaks since 2007, and will serve as the national sponsor of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a network of walk events around the country. Kathleen Waugh, chairman of the Toys "R" Us Children's Fund, commented on the importance of the cause: "The growing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has deeply impacted the lives of Toys"R"Us customers, employees and the communities we serve." The National Lekotek Center joined Toys "R" Us in creating a toy guide for differenty-abled kids, which includes a list of toys geared towards developing creativity, language, and social skills. Shop the list of Ten Toys That Speak To Autism, where you'll find creative learning toys such as the Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set, on sale for just $29.99. Use code FRIENDS20 to get 20% off your purchase through April 5th, and your purchase price drops to $24.
Purchase 150 Autism Awareness Checks for just $13.95, and Check Advantage will donate a portion of the proceeds to Autism Speaks. You'll also have a conversation starter to raise awareness for the cause. Each box includes 6 pads of checks, 30 deposit slips and 1 check register, and shipping is free.
If you're an eBay seller, you can post items through eBay Giving Works to designate a percentage of proceeds to go to Autism Speaks. Just choose a donation amount between 10% and 100%, and then click "List your item." You can also shop items from sellers who support the charity.
Dollar General is accepting donations at registers in-store for the entire month of April. Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO of Dollar General, is happy to be involved with Autism Speaks for the 5th year in a row. “This disorder affects many of our customers and we are proud to help fund research for the cause,” said Dreiling. Download printable coupons to save money and donate your savings, or shop online and donate directly to Autism Speaks below.
You'll find a number of ways to give on the Autism Speaks website, from direct donations to volunteer opportunities. Be sure to sign up for the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event closest to you, or contribute on your own time by downloading Charity Miles and dedicating your workout to Autism Speaks.
You can stay up-to-date by following the Autism Speaks Facebook Page, and be sure to share this article with your friends. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends screening for all children at 18 and 24 months. You can now screen your child online, but be sure to seek further evaluation if you have concerns that your child is not meeting developmental milestones. Early diagnosis and intervention is the key to improving opportunities for children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.