NEWS | April 8, 2014

UC Davis MIND Institute hosts Northern California premiere of Sounding the Alarm with Autism Speaks


On Tuesday, April 29, the UC Davis MIND Institute hosts the Northern California premiere screening of “Sounding the Alarm,” a film that gives viewers a look at the profound changes that take place in the lives of 12 American families after their children receive an autism diagnosis. The screening will be held in the auditorium of the MIND Institute, 2825 50th St., Sacramento, as part of the institute's Autism Awareness Month activities. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m.

UC Davis MIND Institute UC Davis MIND Institute

The film includes an interview with David Amaral, research director of the MIND Institute, who speaks to the progress of autism research, autism risk factors and the lack of funding for resources and research.

"This film highlights both the challenges and the resiliency of families with a child with autism spectrum disorder,” Amaral said. “It will be of particular interest to anyone who wants to learn more about autism - especially the day-to-day practical issues that confront families. The film is realistic, frightening and optimistic all at the same time."

“Sounding the Alarm” features Bob and Suzanne Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, who discuss their grandson Christian’s diagnosis nine years ago and their fight to make a difference, not only for their grandson, but for everyone throughout the world affected by autism. The Wright’s daughter, Katie, is also interviewed about her experiences, and viewers are given a look at Christian’s intensive daily therapies.

Over the next decade, approximately 500,000 adolescents with autism will transition into adulthood with minimal support systems in place. The film examines the concerns families face as they prepare for their children to “age out” of the system.

“Sounding the Alarm” explores the impact state-regulated health insurance has on families. Among them are the Lawrences, whose son, Bradley, needs applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to help him learn to communicate and develop his social skills. In order for Bradley to receive appropriate treatment, his family must move from North Carolina to Indiana.

The film also speaks with retired marine Hardy Mills and his wife, Danielle, who are barely scraping by in order to provide their 7-year-old son, Shane, with the ABA therapy he vitally needs. During the past two years, Hardy and Danielle have spent over $120,000 out of their own pockets for Shane’s ABA services.

Also featured are experts Christopher McDougle, director of Massachusetts General Hospital's Lurie Center, and Joy O’Shaughnessy, associate director for East End Disabilities Associates, Inc., a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides a variety of supports and services to people with developmental disabilities, shares why these services are so vital and so vulnerable.

Emmy award winning documentarian John Block, a 30-year veteran of NBC News, is the producer and director of “Sounding the Alarm.”

Attendance is free and open to the public, however reservations are required. To RSVP, please contact Terri Contenti, 916-703-0289 or .

Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at