Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and program evolution can help families today.

In February 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDME autism prevalence report. The report, which looked at a sample of 8 year olds in 2000 and 2002, concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 150 American children, and almost 1 in 94 boys.

A decade ago, it took a few months to get a child into a special school largely for children with autism. Now, the wait can be five years and in some instances schools cannot take any new patients.

The Life Foundation will support autism, autism spectrum disorders, pervasive developmental disorder (pdd), asperger’s syndrome, and other developmental difficulties programs throughout the US. The foundation will fund programs for schools to enhance existing programs and, in addition, will support recurring meetings for carefully selected physicians, researchers, and scientists committed to finding effective treatments for autism.

The Life Foundation is particularly excited about its involvement with the Ritvo Autism Asperger’s Diagnostic Scale (RAADS) study to enhance the diagnosis of adults with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome throughout the United States of America (USA), Europe, Australia, and Asia from 2008 to 2010. Successful diagnosis of where individuals are on the autism spectrum exponentially enhances the ability of caregivers to tailor treatment modalities. The Life Foundation worked closely with leading institutions in the USA, Europe and Australia in this groundbreaking work. RAADS studies were conducted by UCLA; the Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York; the University of Utah, the Geneva Center Canada in Toronto; the University of London, the University of Sydney; Monarch University in Melbourne; and Griffith University in Brisbane. The success of the studies is reflected in the translation of the research and protocols in Sweden by Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; in Japan by Najoya University; in India (Hindi) and it is anticipated in Holland, Germany and France as well.

During 2012, the Life Foundation funded molecular research by Dr. Valerie Hu at Georgetown University that has great promise in facilitating breakthroughs in autism diagnostics and treatment modalities through the identification of markers that have the potential to explain the increased prevalence of autism in male children.