Macaroni Cares: Autism Action and Awareness Month

This Month's Featured Not-for-Profit

By Michele Iallonardi April 1, 2014

April is Autism Action and Awareness month! This month’s not-for-profit feature is the National Autism Association (NAA). Founded in 2003, it has become a leading advocacy organization in the autism community. The mission of the National Autism Association is to respond to the most urgent needs of the autism community, providing real help and hope so that all affected can reach their full potential.

With the rate of autism currently at 1 in 88 children, the need for support is greater than ever. Based in Massachusetts, NAA is run by parents of children with autism. Through their Big Red Safety Boxes, Helping Hand Program and Give a Voice initiative, NAA has improved the lives of countless individuals affected by autism. 

According to NAA’s President Wendy Fournier, wandering off from a safe environment is one of the most frightening issues for many families touched by autism. Many individuals with autism are unable to recognize danger. A major effort of the NAA is their Big Red Safety Box, a free-of-charge toolkit given to autism families as a means to educate, raise awareness and share simple tools to assist them in preventing and responding to wandering-related emergencies. 

NAA’s Big Red Safety Box includes the following resources:

  • NAA’s Get REDy booklet
  • Two  Door Window Alarms with batteries
  • One  RoadID Personalized, Engraved Shoe ID Tag
  • Five Laminated Adhesive Stop Sign Visual Prompts for doors and windows
  • Two  Safety Alert Window Clings for car or home windows
  • One  Red Safety Alert Wristband

There are additional resources and information for families available at

The medical expenses of children with autism can be astronomical. Through the Helping Hand Program, NAA helps provide financial support to families in dire need. Their assistance helps children with autism receive the medical services they need.

One of NAA’s newest programs is the ‘Give a Voice’ program, which provides communication devices to individuals with autism who are non-verbal and whose communication challenges put them at increased risk. This program recently provided communication devices to fifty individuals with autism who would have been unable to attain a communication device without their support.

Every day, the National Autism Association works to give help and hope to families affected by autism. For more information, visit their website at If you’d like to learn more about how to support NAA, visit