Celebrities Spread the Word on Autism - Autism Mom Blog

Celebrities Spread the Word on Autism

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an average of 1 in 110 children has been diagnosed with some form of autism, bringing the estimated number of people in the United States who suffer from this disorder to between 1.5 and 2 million. It also affects untold numbers of family and friends, and celebrities are no exception. In recent years, many celebrities have come forward to speak about autism and how it has affected their lives and the lives of their family members. Luckily, many of them have opted to use their influence on behalf of autism acceptance and education, and they’re making a real difference.

The most notable and outspoken celebrity on this topic is probably Jenny McCarthy, who has become known in recent years as the face of autism. Her son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. She famously spoke about it on Oprah in 2007 and then began chronicling her journey to get him treatment in 2008’s Louder Than Words and 2009’s Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds. Along with Dr. Jerry Karzinel, M.D., she also co-wrote the 2009 release Healing and Preventing Autism: A Complete Guide. And if that wasn’t enough, she founded an organization called Generation Rescue, consisting of “…scientists, physicians, and parent-volunteers researching the causes and treatments for autism…” Besides doing research, Generation Rescue strives to provide parents of autistic children with education and resources (including funding grants) to get early treatment. She, more than anyone, has helped this disorder come into the national spotlight.

Another celebrity who has dedicated himself to fighting autism is quarterback Doug Flutie, whose son, Doug Flutie, Jr., was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He was one of the first celebrities to bring autism into the public spotlight. Doug and his wife Laurie started the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism in 2000 to increase awareness about the disorder, raise money both for research and to help families in need, and improve the overall quality of life for those suffering from autism. Since 1998, the Fluties have raised more than $10 million through corporate donations and endorsements.

Another former football player who is doing his part to fight autism is Dan Marino. After his son, Michael, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, he and his wife Claire sought immediate treatment. Within months, he was able to begin speaking with the aid of a speech pathologist and today he functions at the same level as his peers. Because Michael had such success with early treatment, Marino wanted to find a way to help others. So in 1998 he built the Dan Marino Center at the Miami Children’s Hospital to treat children with autism and other developmental disorders. Then in 2005 his foundation donated $1.2 million to establish the Marino Autism Research Institute (MARI), with the goal of developing cutting edge research on the causes and treatments of autism.

Whether because autism is spreading or because it has become more widely recognized and diagnosed, it now affects more families than ever. And many celebrities have found themselves among that number. But by using the multiple resources at their disposal, they are doing their part to ensure that research continues and families obtain the education and resources they need to cope with and treat autism.

Guest Post by: Sarah Leonard of Nursing Programs.

1 comment to Celebrities Spread the Word on Autism

  • Jade

    Here’s a story about a nurse and medical assistant who were caught eye gouging an autistic man, kicking and punching him and pulling his hair and slamming him to ground. Abuse of autistic people must stop now.



    Nurse in case is a Michael Garritson who, interestingly, was charged with animal cruelty back in 2002, but a judge in that case let him keep his RN license so he could “make a living” . He sure went on to make a living, and was recently caught on tape secretly abusing an autistic non verbal man in his care. The RN in this case is an excellent illustration of someone who had a prior conviction for animal abuse, and was tried for murder of an infant 30 years ago, got off and continued his sadistic ways. Perhaps if Michael Garritson had been registered in an animal abuse registry, he would not have been allowed to later go on to physically abuse the autistic man. Thank God the family of autistic young man caught both men, especially Garritson, on tape or Garritson may have killed this defenseless severely autistic man. For sure we need more autism awareness and advocacy to stop the epidemic of abuse and discrimination against autistic people. It’s not okay to abuse autistic people. Period.

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