Patt Morrison For March 27, 2012

Autism Speaks’ new executive director walks the walk

Walk Now For Autism Speaks

Handout/Getty Images

(L-R) In this handout photo provided by Autism Speaks, Mark Roithmayr, Joyce Asner, Ed Asner, Phillip Hain, Matthew Asner, (Front) Jake and Will Asner pose for a photograph at the Walk Now for Autism Speaks on April 23, 2011 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Both Matthew Asner and his father, Emmy-winning actor Ed Asner, have long been involved with the cause of autism. Matthew’s 23-year old brother is autistic, and his own 9-year-old son Will was diagnosed with the condition at age 4. As a parent, Matthew found support in the advocacy organization Autism Speaks, with which his father Ed has been involved with for two decades.

Now, he’s leaving his 20-year career as a television producer to serve as the organization’s executive director for Southern California. Autism Speaks offers support, understanding and resources to those families living with autism.

Asner was first inspired when he attended an Autism Speaks walk, which showed him that “there was a world of people that wanted to feel the same way that I wanted to feel…my hope had been restored and I wanted to help people.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism, a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, now affects 1 in 110 American children.

Update: According to a new report released March 29, 2012 from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 88 American kids has autism. Among boys, it's one in 54.

WEIGH IN:

Is enough being done to understand this condition? How do insurance companies address the needs of autism? What can policy makers, health care specialists and others do to help?

Guest:

Matthew Asner, executive director, Southern California for Autism Speaks


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