May Institute, LoJack Team Up to Promote Autism Awareness

An MBTA car card from the awareness campaign.
April 8, 2010 — Building on a successful first year, the May Institute in Randolph, which provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services, has launched its second annual statewide autism awareness campaign that aims to counter widely held stereotypes about the disorder.

Armed with support from a business sponsor, LoJack Corporation, the May Institute is running the campaign, valued at $100,000, during National Autism Awareness Month, looking to reach potentially more than one million commuters in Massachusetts.

“Through this unique and far-reaching partnership, May Institute is able to raise public awareness about the challenges faced by families with autism, and educate them about available resources,” said May Institute Vice President Eileen Pollack.

She added, “Last year's campaign was very successful in terms of overall reach and exposure, and we therefore made the decision to expand it significantly, essentially doubling the number of pieces throughout the MBTA system to 1,000, introducing new children and stories, and expanding the relevant facts about autism. We have also included a 'take-one’ postcard component which will allow commuters to mail postcards requesting additional information about autism.”

This year's What Does Autism Look Like? campaign includes more than 1,000 informational pieces on the MBTA system, including 125 platform posters in dozens of subway and commuter rail stations, and 900 educational car cards displayed in subway cars and buses. As many as 1.3 million riders use the MBTA each day.

According to the Institute, 11,000 school-aged children in Massachusetts have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), nearly double the number of five years ago. Education and access to accurate information and services can significantly impact long-term life outcomes for these and all children with ASD.

“The campaign was designed to introduce and expose the general public to important facts about autism, and to humanize the face of autism and break through some of the barriers and stereotypes of a disorder that is so poorly understood,” said Pollack.

Lauding the effort, MBTA General Manager Richard A. Davey said, “This is a great partnership and we are excited to be part of an initiative that works to educate the public on autism.”

LoJack Corporation offers LoJack SafetyNet in a number of communities, a service that enables law enforcement and Massachusetts other public safety agencies to search for and maximize the safe return of a child who wanders.