The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers now show that 1 in 88 children in the United States are being diagnosed with autism – nearly a doubling of the prevalence since the CDC began tracking these numbers.
At 1 in 88, we now have over 1 million children directly affected by autism. According to a newly released study the annual cost of autism in the United States is a staggering $126 billion annually, more than tripling the cost analysis from six years ago. The numbers are alarming, but they don’t begin to tell the story of the real families and individuals struggling every day in the United States.
Today’s show featured 5 individuals personally touched in some way by autism, and professionally dedicated to serving those affected . . .
Anise Castleberry / Autism Speaks
Anise Castleberry is the Director of Walk Now For Autism Speaks and Events in Georgia. She works closely with local staff, volunteers, donors, corporate partnerships and families to raise funds in support of Autism Speaks’ mission: to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.
Castleberry began her non-profit career in 2004 and held positions with the Department of Juvenile Justice and the March of Dimes before assuming her current position with Autism Speaks in July 2011. She also serves on the Board of MDAC (Milton Disability and Awareness Committee).
For More Information About Aurtism Speaks: http://www.autismspeaks.org/
Don Mueller / Marcus Autism Center
Marcus Autism Center is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide information, services and programs to children with autism and related disorders, their families and those who live and work with them. They offer integrated research opportunities, advanced clinical, behavioral, educational and family support services through a single organization to reduce the stress for families that use our services.
With the appointment of Ami Klin, Ph.D., Director of Marcus Autism Center, they are pursuing an overarching research strategy, with two main areas of focus—early detection and early intervention. This will be accomplished, in part, by Dr. Klin’s eye-tracking software, which has been shown to diagnose children as young as 6 months old. But none of this would be possible without the generous support of their community of donors and Bill and Bernie Marcus.
Marcus Autism Center had its beginnings as The Marcus Developmental Resource Center at Emory University in 1991. Marcus Autism Center has become a nationally recognized center for excellence for the provision of coordinated and comprehensive services for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities.
Since its inception, Marcus Autism Center has provided services to more than 37,000 individuals, conducted ground breaking research, and provided education and training programs. Children with conditions, such as autism, mental illness, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and disruptive behaviors, are afforded some of the highest quality services by one of the largest teams of professionals and support staff solely dedicated to child development in Georgia.
Together with families, support groups, government agencies, research enterprises and foundations, they are strengthening the community through advocacy at the local and state level. They strive for fuller integration of individuals with developmental disabilities into school and community life, better access for families to appropriate clinical and educational services, and enhanced funding for research and training.
La Toshia Stephens / Autism Society of America Georgia Chapter
The Greater Georgia Chapter is an agent for the National Autism Society of America. The Autism Society of America was founded in 1965 by a small group of parents working on a volunteer basis out of their homes. Over the last 47 years, the Society has developed into the leading source of information and referral on autism.
The Greater Georgia Chapter of the Autism Society of America is a dedicated well informed group of parents and professionals working together to increase public awareness and improve services statewide for individuals with autism. They provide current, accurate information on diagnosis, treatment, research, legislative updates, resources and programs to assist families and professionals as they design intervention strategies for individuals with autism.
The Chapter’s mission statement is to promote, support and provide community inclusion opportunities for all persons with autism across the lifespan in the areas of Education and Public Awareness, Advocacy, Family Support, Research, Choice of Supports and Services and Individualization with Value and Respect for the Person.
La Toshia Stephens is a native of Oklahoma. A graduate of The University of Tulsa, she began her professional career as an Undergraduate Admissions Counselor. After 5 years of recruiting, La Toshia became a full time mother. Bryce is now 19, a freshman at the University of Georgia; Kameron, who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 9 is 17 and plays the Base Drum in the Mill Creek Marching Band and Indoor Drumline and Mia who is 13, attends Osborne Middle and is in the 8th grade. She has been married for 20 years to the love of her life, Bert.
La Toshia and her family had only been in Georgia for a year when she began working at the Autism Society of America- Georgia Chapter. After 4 years with the Autism Society she joined the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University as their Community Specialist Family Support. She is also a Critical Incident Training (CIT) educator on developmental disabilities for local police forces.
LaToshia rejoins the Autism Society as our New Executive Director. She brings her years of experience as a family member and a former staff member. She is excited to join ASA in a leadership role to further the Georgia Chapter’s mission and vision to serve children with autism and their families in their communities, religious sectors, and public and private education.
La Toshia is a 2012 Graduate of Gwinnett STOPP; 2011 Graduate of Partners in Policymaking Training Program. She is a board member of the Gwinnett County Navigator Team and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. La Toshia has worked several years with Parent Teacher Associations both in Oklahoma and Gwinnett County, Quarterback Clubs, Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club in Oklahoma and Mill Creek High School, and the Pride of Mill Creek Band.
Brittain Prigge / Balentine
Brittain Prigge is Director, Client Relationships and a founding partner of Balentine. She is also a member of the Management Committee. Brittain began her career with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith.
In 1994, she joined Balentine & Company where she became a partner in 2001. Brittain continued with Wilmington Trust after the acquisition in 2002, managing the investment advisory practice in the southeastern United States. She is active in the community, focusing on organizations dedicated to helping underprivileged children. Brittan has been an active fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, acting as a National Associate. She is also a board member and chair of the Resource Development committee for Families First, Georgia’s largest notfor-profit family service agency providing holistic services to children and families in jeopardy.
Brittain is a member of the Peachtree Battle Alliance board, serving as Secretary and E Rivers liaison. Brittain holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Vanderbilt University. She also holds the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA®) designation, and is a member of CFA Institute and Atlanta Society of Security Analysts.
Jim McCarten / Burr & Forman
Jim is a partner in Burr & Forman’s Corporate, Trusts & Estate, and Tax practice groups. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and has a broad range of tax experience, including representing clients during audits by the IRS and/or Tennessee Department of Revenue; crafting tax structures for new businesses; counseling clients on the tax aspects of business exit strategies and business succession issues; designing tax-effective executive compensation packages; creating appropriate estate plans; and counseling families on special needs planning.
Jim began his professional tax career with the “Big 8” public accounting firm of Coopers & Lybrand. Following law school, he litigated tax cases for the federal government as a member of the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1994, Jim was a founding member of one of East Tennessee’s largest and most respected law firms.
Jim is admitted to practice law in Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri. He has been named to The Best Lawyers for America since 2003 in the areas of Estates and Trusts, Nonprofit/Charity Law, and Tax Law and named by Mid-South Super Lawyers Magazine to each of its Tennessee lists. Jim has served as the Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Tax Section, as a Trustee of the Paul J. Hartman State & Local Tax Forum, as a Trustee of the Tennessee Federal Tax Institute, and as a Trustee of the Advanced Institute on Corporate Taxation. He is also the author of a professional treatise and numerous tax-related articles as well as a frequent speaker at tax programs for CPAs and attorneys throughout the Southeast.
Jim was honored for his work in special needs planning when inducted into the Special Needs Alliance. He and his wife, Diane, are both active with ASMT (Middle Tennessee’s autism support organization), the ARC of Davidson County and the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (“TRIAD”) program, part of Vanderbilt’s Kennedy Center.