Thursday, April 22, 2010

Exective Director of Asperger's Association Visits White House

Autism experts gathered for World Autism Day April 2

WATERTOWN, MA – Experts met at the White House to mark World Autism Day on April 2, 2010, to discuss current the efforts and priorities of the Obama Administration with regard to autism research. The Asperger’s Association of New England’s (AANE) Executive Director Dania Jekel represented AANE as one of 20 organizations invited to the White House.

Asperger’s Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis. ASDs are a complex set of neurodevelopmental disorders, usually appearing within the first three years of life and impacting a child’s communication and social interaction, and often resulting in stereotypic patterns of behavior. ASDs include Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD/NOS); Autistic Disorder, and Asperger’s Syndrome, and are estimated to occur in 1 in 100 8-year old children in the United States (CDC 2009).

Jekel articulated AANE’s response to the proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, which proposes to eliminate the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome (AS); the need for families to have coordinated support and information, and the need for support and information for teens and adults of all ages with AS, especially in the area of employment. “We take pride in being one of a very few autism organizations invited to the White House on World Autism Day” said Jekel. “AANE was the only organization of the 20 attending that represented Asperger Syndrome.”

Other participating experts included:

  • Melody Barnes, Director of President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council
  • Dr. Edwin Trevathan, Director of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
  • Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute for Mental Health
  • Dr. Peter Van Dyck, Associate Administrator for Maternal and Child Health
  • Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy

AANE is the largest independent organization for Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) in the nation and does not receive any state or federal funding. Their mission is to foster awareness, respect, acceptance, and support for individuals with AS and related conditions and their families.

To visit their website, click here.

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