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National Autism Association Maintains Support of Travoltas Despite Whoopi Goldberg's Mistaken Comments on ABC's 'The View'
Date:9/29/2009

NIXA, Mo., Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Autism Association (NAA) stated today that they very much support the Travolta family and all families affected by autism despite Whoopi Goldberg's comments today on ABC's The View. During this morning's episode, Goldberg stated, "The National Autism Association has come out saying that they did not expect Travolta to be a celebrity spokesperson for autism, but that he should have come forward sooner." Goldberg's comments were made following an ABC news article where NAA President Wendy Fournier was asked to make a statement about the Travolta debate.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090918/NAALOGO)

Fournier's statement, however, was the opposite of what Goldberg stated on the show. "But I've read some things that really bother me -- basically that they should have come forward sooner. Everybody handles autism in the best way that they can and for whatever personal reasons they had, they chose not to make it public," is what Fournier stated in the ABC article.

In response to Goldberg's comments, Fournier said, "I agree with Ms. Goldberg, the Travoltas, like any other family struggling with the illness of their child, are entitled to their privacy. I have read hurtful, judgmental comments from individuals as well as organizations, suggesting that that the Travolta family owed it to the autism community to use their celebrity to bring awareness to the disorder. I couldn't disagree more."

NAA feels there may have been confusion in how the quote was read by Ms. Goldberg, but the organization states that it in no way feels that any autism family should be criticized for how they choose to handle the diagnosis. "Wendy was actually voicing her frustration about those who have criticized the couple for not coming forward sooner about their son's diagnosis," stated NAA Executive Director Rita Shreffler.

The organization says they were disappointed to hear the comments made by Ms. Goldberg, but understands that there may have been some confusion on her part. "NAA is here to support families and fellow parents," stated Board Chair Lori McIlwain. "This debate does not serve anyone. As a nation, we need to instead focus on helping those affected by autism, which now affects 1 in 100 children."

ABOUT NAA

The National Autism Association was founded in 2003 with the mission to educate and empower families affected by autism and other neurological disorders. First and foremost an advocacy nonprofit, NAA educates society that autism is not a lifelong incurable genetic disorder but one that is biomedically definable and treatable. For the last six years, NAA has raised public and professional awareness of environmental toxins as causative factors in neurological damage that often results in an autism or related diagnosis. One of the largest member-based autism organizations in the country, NAA encourages those in the autism community to never give up in their search to help their loved ones reach their full potential.

The organization has five programs:

  • Helping Hand Program: provides financial aid to families affected by autism
  • Family First Program: provides tools to counter the rising divorce rates among autism families
  • FOUND: a program designed to combat wandering-related deaths by providing funding to Sheriff offices for Project Lifesaver Equipment
  • Progress Research: a fund directed towards impactful research studies
  • NAA's National Autism Conference: a four-day conference that provides balanced information to families, therapists and practitioners. To register for this year's conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL, November 12--14, go to http://www.nationalautismconference.org.
    Contacts:
    Wendy Fournier (Portsmouth, RI) 401-835-5828
    Lori McIlwain (Cary, NC) 919-741-1646

SOURCE National Autism Association


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