Our Objective is to look beyond the differences caused by autism and into the hearts and minds of these incredible people.
The Golden Hat Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with autism around the world, and creating an environment that holds these individuals as intellectually capable. The mission of the Golden Hat Foundation is the establishment of innovative campuses that offer people with autism the opportunity to learn to communicate, receive an education, job training and enjoy recreational activities, all within a supportive social network. When given a suitable education and the means to communicate effectively, people with autism can truly realize their dreams.
Autistic individuals can achieve great things -- but only if they're supported by people who believe in their potential. Autistic people are often the creative innovators in our midst. They see the world through a different lens -- and when their perspective is respected, they can change the world.1
Lisa Jo Rudy, Mother, Writer and Consultant for autism
Much attention is on autism because of the profound increase in the number of children being diagnosed.
- In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report stating that autism had risen to 1 in every 110 (now 1 in every 88) births in the United States and almost 1 in 70 boys. A total of 1.5 million Americans now live with autism.
- According to WorldAutismAwarenessDay.org, an estimated 67 million people around the world have autism.
The spotlight shown on autism as a result of the increase in prevalence opens opportunities for the world to consider how best to serve these individuals and their families. Although awareness of the increase in autism is important, it is also important to understand the person behind the diagnosis …why he or she may look, act, or appear different.
- Problems with verbal communication are one of the telltale signs of autism. Functional speech is absent in about 50 percent of autism cases. Those who do speak, often do so in odd or unusual ways.
- People with autism often have unusual interests or behaviors, sometimes called "stimming." They may be more interested in parts of an object, rather than the whole object. They may become attached to odd items. Unusual behaviors may include hand flapping, walking on toes, or other movements that are repeated over and over.
- People with autism are often highly sensitive or under-responsive to sound, light, and other sensory stimulation. They may overreact to sounds and grab their ears or talk very loudly when speaking to others. They may object to rough-textured clothing and tags on their skin. They may avoid some foods because of sensitivity to textures. They may tolerate hugging but become irritable when touched lightly. This sensory sensitivity is called “tactile defensiveness." Sensory issues can make people with autism appear inattentive or disinterested in others.
People with autism carry a double burden. In addition to their daily speech and sensory challenges, they must also cope with negative attitudes of society, inadequate support for their needs and, in some cases, outright discrimination. Sadly, people with autism are often labeled “cognitively impaired.” Because communication skills are an integral part of how most professionals determine a person's intelligence, their communication impairments can severely affect their ability to perform on standardized intelligence tests.
Mike Merzenich, a professor of neuroscience at UC San Francisco, says the notion that 75 percent of autistic people are mentally retarded is "incredibly wrong and destructive." He has worked with a number of children with autism, many of whom are nonverbal that would have been plunked into the low-functioning (severe) category simply because they lacked the ability to express what they know.2
We at the Golden Hat Foundation believe that:
- Despite the behaviors and communication difficulties of people with autism, we should assume intelligence first and then find ways to access it. People with autism are different, but they have unique strengths, perceptions, and talents that deserve recognition and respect.
- People with autism should be given the means to learn to communicate.
- People with autism should have access to an appropriate academic education, social supports and job training based on their abilities.
With your support, we can change the world for people with autism. It is their time to GLOW.
1“Top 7 Autism Myths.” About.com 4 February 2010.
2They Know.” Wired.com. 25 February 2008.
Golden Hat Walk for Autism
Dress the kids in gold, tie up your sneakers and join your friends on Saturday, August 17, for the Golden Hat Walk for Autism! This fun, gold-themed parade will also feature engaging kids activities and an interactive resource fair!
Click here to register, donate or volunteer!
Click here for the flyer.
Musical Stars Support Golden Hat Foundation with American Christmas Carol concert at Carnegie Hall
Click here for highlights.
Austin Book Signing Features Local Stars from The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism
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GHF Hosts 2012 World Autism Awareness Day in Conjunction with the United Nations
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Golden Hat Foundation Partners with 100 Celebrities for Coffee Table Book
Click here for the press release.
Kate Winslet Creates a New Foundation for Autism
Click Here for the press release.