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TV Documentary on Autism Crisis in America

  • Published: 2010-04-20 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-21) : Author: MassMutual
  • Synopsis: Sneak Peak into Public Television Documentary on Autism Crisis in America.

Main Document

Sneak Peak into Public Television Documentary on Autism Crisis in America.

A soon-to-be-released documentary will provide insights on the day-to-day struggles and heart-wrenching issues faced by families impacted by autism. Families featured in the upcoming public television documentary, "Autism: Coming of Age. " Presented by WGBY (Springfield, Mass.) and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), will expose and explore the grave issues facing an estimated 1 to 1.5 million Americans with autism and the rippling impact that autism has on their families.

The documentary will debut on WGBY in Springfield and will air on Public Television stations across the country starting this fall.

Fueling the documentary, in part, is groundbreaking research from the December 2008 "Easter Seals Living with Autism" study, also co-sponsored by MassMutual, that examined the hopes, fears and challenges of parents raising children with autism.

"Our initial research showed that caring for children with autism is having a devastating effect on family finances across America," said Michael Fanning, executive vice president of MassMutual's U.S. Insurance Group., "and ultimately jeopardizes both the current and long-term security of the whole family."

For example, 75 percent of parents of children with autism fear that, once they die, their children will not have the financial support they need. Parents of children with autism are five times more likely than parents of typically developing children to say the cost of trying to provide for their children will drain their future financial resources. Despite their needs, families with members having autism find little public or private support and typically face these fears alone.

"The documentary is the next step in our exploration of the needs of families affected by disabilities, in this case, autism," said Bill Dougherty, assistant vice president of MassMutual's exclusive SpecialCare(SM) program, an innovative outreach initiative providing access to information, specialists and financial products and services that can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and other special needs and their families and caregivers.

"Our past research examined the issues faced by families having children with autism. MassMutual is working with Easter Seals again this year on a study that attempts to delve further into issues facing parents of adult children who have special needs," said Dougherty. MassMutual plans to release the results of the study this fall.

"We take great pride that MassMutual is a leader in providing these families with education and access to resources that help them ensure their children with special needs - from infancy to adulthood - will be well cared for," said Fanning. "Families having members with special needs have so much to worry about. We hope that we can at least take some financial worries off their plate so that they can concentrate on the day-to-day care of their loved ones."

Results of the 2008 Easter Seals Living with Autism study are available at A variety of resources from MassMutual for people with special needs, their families and caregivers are available at For more news about MassMutual visit

About MassMutual - Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyholders. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyholders every year since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company's strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.

MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.

*Based on the autism prevalence rate of 1 in 150 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007: and 2000 U.S. Census figure of 280 million Americans.

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