OAR Celebrates 16 Candles | Organization for Autism Research

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If your memory stretches back far enough or if you are into the “oldies,” you will remember the song, “16 Candles,” sung by the Crests, as one of the big hits in 1958. People a bit younger may remember a movie by that name starring Molly Ringwald that came out in 1984.

As the song and movie did, OAR is ready to celebrate 16 years of age when it turns 16 on December 13. To celebrate, we present a 16-candle walk down OAR’s Memory Lane.

Candle  Accomplishment Year
1 Fund first two research studies, $30,000 each. 2002
2 Publish first guidebook, “Parent’s Guide to Research.” 2003
3 Release “Educator’s Guide to Autism.” 2004
4 Publish “Educator’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome.” 2005
5 Introduce “A Guide for Transition to Adulthood.” 2006
6 Award first three Schwallie Family scholarships. 2007
7 Release “Understanding Autism: A Professor’s Guide” DVD, OAR’s first resource for self-advocates. 2008
8 Launch Operation Autism, a website expressly for military families impacted by autism. 2009
9 Publish “A Guide for Military Families,” a companion resource for military parents. 2010
10 Release “Es Mejor Saber” (“It’s Better to Know”) an English-Spanish fotonovela that helps Latino families understand the warning signs of autism. 2011
11 Publish “What’s Up With Nick?,” the centerpiece of OAR’s widely acclaimed “Kit for Kids” peer education initiative. 2012
12 Reach more than $3 million dollars in research grants funded. 2013
13 Release the Curriculum-in-a-Box built around “Understanding Autism: A Guide for Secondary School Teachers” DVD. 2014
14 Publish “Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide to Safety,” a look at safety issues across the lifespan. 2015
15 Launch a new fully responsive OAR website, making resources and program information more fully accessible. 2016
16 Launch Hire Autism, The Sandy Lankler Jobs Portal, and with it, OAR’s adult employment initiative. 2017

As the chart illustrates, OAR’s capacity has increased over the past 16 years from publishing individual resources to developing and implementing programs of high impact and national scope, while still funding research and maintaining its core programs. Nowhere was OAR’s coming of age more evident than in the recent Encore Prize Generation2Generation Challenge, where OAR and its Hire Autism program competed with an initial field of 181 contestants nationally and won one of two $50,000 prizes based on the quality and potential of the Hire Autism program. In this birthday candle context, winning that prize this year is the 17th candle, the one to grow on!

As OAR pauses to blow out the candles and cut the cake, OAR’s Board of Directors, Scientific Council, and staff thank everyone who contributed in any way to the accomplishments we so proudly share. Beyond the birthday, here’s wishing each of you a warm hearth and the company of family and friends as the perfect complements to your holiday festivities later this month. Happy holidays!

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