Why is the Tram tower blue?

04/01/11  Portland, Ore.

OHSU Doernbecher shines bright light on autism

Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is participating in a unique global awareness initiative to shine a light on autism as a growing public health crisis. Beginning Monday, April 4, at 8 p.m. and throughout the month of April, OHSU Doernbecher will light the Portland Aerial Tram tower bright blue in recognition of Autism Awareness Month.

Light It Up Blue is a global initiative of Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Last year iconic landmarks around the globe, including the Empire State Building in New York City, Willis Tower in Chicago, CN Tower in Toronto and Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia were lit up in bright blue for Autism Awareness Month.

“Increasing awareness of the assets as well as the deficits associated with autism can really help individuals and their families participate more fully in their communities and give parents hope for the future,” said Darryn Sikora, Ph.D., director of the Autism Program and an associate professor of pediatrics at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “Increased awareness may also help with additional funding for local services and research.”

Autism currently affects 1 out of 110 individuals in the United States. It is the fastest-growing chronic medical condition yet receives far less funding for research than leukemia, juvenile diabetes, and pediatric HIV/AIDS.

“We are proud to launch the inaugural Tram lighting initiative with Doernbecher to support Autism Awareness Month, Autism Speaks, and the Doernbecher Autism Program,” said Susan Keil, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation “The Transportation Bureau looks forward to raising awareness for other, equally important issues in the near future, but today we are excited to Light It Up Blue.”

The Autism Program at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital provides ongoing treatment and management services to more than 500 children with autism and their families each year. OHSU Doernbecher is part of the Autism Treatment Network, a 17-university consortium working together to improve access to quality medical care.

For more information about autism treatment and research opportunities at OHSU Doernbecher, or for more information about how you can help, call 503 494-2757. To learn more about Light It Up Blue, visit www.autismspeaks.org.

About Autism

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About the Portland Aerial Tram

The Tram opened to the public on Jan. 27, 2007. Since then more than 5 million riders have been welcomed on the popular aerial conveyance, one of only two used for urban transit in the United States. For more information about the Tram, visit www.portlandtram.org.

About OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital

OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital is a world-class facility that each year cares for tens of thousands of children from Oregon, southwest Washington and around the nation, including national and international referrals for specialty care. Children have access to a full range of pediatric care, not just treatments for serious illness or injury, resulting in more than 165,000 outpatient visits, discharges, surgeries and pediatric transports annually. Nationally recognized physicians ensure that children receive exceptional care, including outstanding cancer treatment, specialized neurology care and highly sophisticated heart surgery in the most patient- and family-centered environment. Pediatric experts from OHSU Doernbecher travel throughout Oregon and southwest Washington to provide specialty care to some 3,000 children at more than 154 outreach clinics in 13 locations.