February 13, 2006

Autism Projects in Memory of Liz Birt

From NAA:

Autism Projects in Memory of Liz Birt

Liz dedicated a large part of her life to expanding services, treatments, and research for people with autism. The list below is comprised of projects in which Liz had a special interest and which reflect her priorities in the field of autism. All donations are being made to 501 c 3 non-profit organizations and are fully tax deductible. 100% of all donations will be applied to the described programs.

1. Truth & Love Fund, Thoughtful House
Liz was an advisor to Thoughtful House and helped establish their non-profit status. Her son Matthew was treated by several of the doctors there. Thoughtful House provides clinical care for people with autism and conducts research on the causes and treatments of autism, in order to facilitate recovery. More information about this unique center is available at www.thoughtfulhouse.org.

The Truth & Love Fund was established by Thoughtful House to provide free or low cost clinical services to families with financial need. This concept had been discussed by Liz with Thoughtful House directors, and now Thoughtful House would like to put Liz's wish into practice.

Donations should be designated for the "Truth & Love Fund" and can be sent to:

Thoughtful House Center for Children
Attention: Anissa Ryland, Director of Operations
3001 Bee Caves Road
Austin, TX 78746
Telephone : 512-732-8400x 222
Fax: 512-732-8353
Email: anissa.r@thoughtfulhouse.org

2. Camp Scholarships, Extreme Sports Camp Liz was a co-founder and board member of Extreme Sports Camp, and she volunteered as a counselor. Based in Aspen, Colorado, the camp offers sports and recreation in the summer for older children and teenagers with autism. The camp program consists of hiking, water skiing, swimming, rock climbing, rafting, and other sports with one-on-one support. More information about the camp is available at www.extremesportscamp.org or by calling 970 920-3695.

Donations would support the camp's scholarship program, which ensures that
any child can attend camp regardless of need. Donations can be sent to:

Extreme Sports Camp, Inc.
P. O. Box 10729
Aspen, CO 81612

3. Helping Hand Program, National Autism Association
Liz was a board member of the National Autism Association. NAA provides advocacy and education for families with autism and supports biomedical research on autism. NAA has an emergency fund for families in dire financial crisis called the Helping Hand Program. Priority is given to single parents.

The fund provides grants of up to $1,500 per family for critical needs such as biomedical treatments, supplements, and therapy services for their autistic child, as well as basic living expenses. Liz was instrumental in establishing this fund as part of her work on the NAA board. More information about NAA is available at www.nationalautismassociation.org.

More information about the Helping Hand Program is available at www.nationalautismassociation.org/helpinghand.php.

Donations for this effort should be designated for the "Helping Hand Program" and can be sent to:

National Autism Association
1330 W. Schatz Lane
Nixa, MO 65714

4. Liz Birt "Go for the Gold" Mouse Model, SafeMinds
Liz was a co-founder and board member of SafeMinds, a parent advocacy organization dedicated to expanding research on the role of mercury from vaccines and other sources as a cause of autism. One of the researchers which SafeMinds is funding is Dr. Mady Hornig of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Hornig has created a mouse model for autism using exposure to the mercury preservative thimerosal found in infant vaccines. Expanding this research, she is developing a treatment protocol using gold salts which she will administer to these genetically susceptible mice to determine if the treatment might improve their behavior and brain function and if there are side effects. Gold tightly binds mercury and there are anecdotal reports of gold salts being effective in improving autism outcomes. Gold salts (chrysotherapy) were also used for many years for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. This project has been aptly named "Go for the Gold." Dr. Hornig was inspired to undertake this research when she learned of Liz's death. More information about SafeMinds and the research it funds is available at www.safeminds.org or by calling 404 932-1786.

Donations should be designated for the "Go for the Gold Project" and can be sent to -

254 Trickum Creek Road
Tyrone, GA 30290

5. Investigation of GI Disorder in Autism, Steve Walker, PhD
Liz strongly believed that there was a link between onset of gastrointestinal problems and her son Matthew's regression into autism. Liz actively raised funds for research on this issue, and the involvement of GI disorder in autism is now acknowledged among clinicians. An important study on GI disorder and autism which Liz supported is being conducted by Steve Walker of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem. Dr. Walker is examining intestinal tissue samples of 300 children who presented with regressive autism and chronic GI symptoms, to correlate viral gene expression with clinical outcomes. This research has implications for medical treatment as well as identifying factors contributing to autism.

Donations for this research would allow Dr. Walker to complete his analysis of all 300 children for which he has medical histories and biopsies. Questions about this research can be directed to Laura Bono of the National Autism Association, which is collecting funds for this effort. The phone number is 877-622-2884.

Donations should be designated for "Steve Walker GI-Autism Research" and should be sent to -

National Autism Association
1330 W. Schatz Lane
Nixa, MO 65714

6. Pro-Bono Legal Services
Liz was an attorney and a strong believer in volunteerism. She was involved in a number of pro-bono legal activities that advanced the cause of autism. Among these were efforts to increase transparency and accountability at key federal agencies around vaccine safety. Her legal activities were most recently centered on A-CHAMP, a non-partisan organization formed by parents to advance public policy issues affecting children with neurodevelopmental and communication disorders. Liz was a co-founder and board member.

Information on A-CHAMP is available at www.a-champ.org.

A-CHAMP needs volunteers to help them with their efforts around political advocacy. Especially needed are those with a legal background, although dedicated people with any skill are welcome.
Those interested in helping protect the rights of individuals with autism can call Bobbie Manning, Director, A-CHAMP, at 716 713-6625 or by emailing her at bmanning83@adelphia.net.

Think Autism. Think Cure.

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