Ann Huang from Duquesne University Receives Autism Speaks $25,000 Family Services Community Grant

Improving Quality of Life through Person-Centered Planning: A University Based Transition Program for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Pittsburgh, PA, January 16, 2010 --( Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced that it has rewarded a $25,000 Family Services Community Grant to Ann Huang from Duquesne University. The grant will support the transition from school to work project in order to bridge the gap between research and practice by providing young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ages 16- 21, with effective transitional support and services to help them obtain competitive, community-based employment. Using person-centered planning, the project will incorporate vocational assessment and training, work-related social skills training, life/daily-functioning skill building, and employer and co-worker trainings. The aim is to build a model project that helps higher-functioning people with Autism Spectrum Disorders to achieve a productive lifestyle while increasing quality of life and self-determination. The lives of these young adults will reflect their individual preferences, interests and strengths.

Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grants help community organizations across the country expand existing programs and create new ones that show true innovation in providing services to improve and enrich the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Grants are given to address four categories of need: education, recreation/community activities, equipment/supportive technology, and young adult/adult services. To date, Autism Speaks has awarded nearly $1.5 million in Family Services Community Grants.

“Autism Speaks is committed to improving the quality of life for all individuals with autism,” said Peter Bell, Executive Vice President of Programs and Services at Autism Speaks. “As the population of people affected by autism grows and ages, it is imperative that we expand the field of autism services to help children and adults with autism realize their full potential.”

In Pennsylvania, Autism Speaks has funded over $2,700,000 in the areas of research, family services, awareness, and advocacy. To learn more about Autism Speaks in your community, visit

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception only five short years ago, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $131 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families through 2014. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks also supports the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $200 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a community grant program and much more. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.

Autism Speaks
Beth Whitehouse
(412) 367-4571
Lisa Maloney
(412) 367-4571