Timeline: The Politics & Marketing Behind The Autism Epidemic | The 90s

Timeline: The Politics & Marketing Behind The Autism Epidemic | The 90s

1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

[Timeline still being contracted. Last updated: September 11, 2022]

Timeline: Early Years | 80s | 90s | 00s | 10s | 20s

Autism Politics & Initiatives

The Autism Market

Grants , Funded Projects & Money Raised


Marketing & Media Attention

Organizations & Companies

Autistic Community & Allies



  • 1991

    The Marcus Institute launched by Bernie and Billi Marcus in Atlanta, Georgia

    Bernie Marcus and his wife Billi established The Marcus Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. Marcus later contributed $25 million to the launch of Autism Speaks. 

  • 1991

    Autism Society of America conference

    In 1991, autistic advocate Jim Sinclair, with other Autistics, attended the Autism Society of America (ASA) conference.

    The visible presence of autistics at the conference attracted the attention of the ASA Board of Directors. Autistics were approached at the conference by a board member and a few NT parents and asked if they’d like to help establish an ASA autistic advisory committee, have an autistic representative at each board meeting, participate in the planning of future conferences, and have space in their community newsletter.








  • 1998

    UC Mind Institute founded by Chuck and Sarah Gardner, parents of an Autistic. 

    And staff: Dr. Leonard Abbeduto

  • 1998

    NAAR Autism Tissue Program (ATP)

    NAAR was instrumental in funding and establishing the Autism Tissue Program in 1998, a brain tissue donation program dedicated to autism research. NAAR also attracted its first Research Partners and Research Patrons in 1998, which are listed here >>

  • 1998

    National Alliance For Autism Research (NAAR)

    In 1998NAAR committed approximately $500,000 in its second year of funding autism research projects and marked the establishment of NAAR’s Mentor-based fellowship program. In 1998, NAAR funded 10 pilot studies and 2 mentor-based fellowships in the United States and Canada.

    Included: David G. Amaral, Charles N. Cartwright,, Pam Factor-Litvak, Wendy R. Kates, Yves Lamarre, , Rebecca Landa, Anne Messer, Katherine D. Tsatsanis, Roland D. Ciaranello, Christopher A. Walsh, Patricia M. Whitaker-Amitia,  Andrew W. Zimmerman,

  • 1998

    Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation is established by parent of an autistic, Doug Flutie.

  • 1998

    Cure Autism Now | IS AUTISM INCURABLE?

    Via Chicago Tribune with CAN member, Ellen Bolte.

  • 1998

    CAN Celebrity Influencer: Anthony Edwards, star of tv show “ER.”

    Since joining CAN’s Honorary Board early last year, Anthony Edwards, star of the hit series “ER,” has shown his commitment to children with autism in so many ways. He traveled to Washington, D.C. to help introduce the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, took the helm at our ’98 CAN Cup Event in San Francisco, has attended numerous fundraisers and cocktail parties for CAN scientists, and took our mission on-line and raised over $21,000 as part of Entertainment Asylum’s “Hollywood Gives” series.

    He also was the force behind a critically important meeting CAN parents and scientists had (on the set of ER) with Senator Frist, Chair of the Senate subcommittee on Health and Human Services. As a result of this meeting Frist has promised to lend his support to increased autism research funding and innovative efforts like AGRE. and All of this, in addition to Anthony’s own incredible $100,000 donation in 1998, has helped to raise substantial funds and invaluable awareness. 

    Anthony has increased his involvement with CAN by becoming a full member of CAN’s Board of Directors. Anthony’s special project for creating awareness for autism research is the Team CAN Indy Race Car entry.

  • 1998

    CAN Board Member, parent, and noted pediatrician Dr. Ricki Robinson gave a featured presentation on autism to President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Goreat Vice-President Gore’s 1998 “Family Reunion: Family Empowerment in Healthcare.” 

  • 1998

    CAN welcomes honorary board member, Leah Rabin.

    “Mrs. Rabin has long been a supporter and activist on behalf of people with autism in Israel, and we are thrilled to have her on board. She joins fellow members Maya Angelou, Anthony Edwards, Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, Congressman Steve Rothman, Congresswoman Marge Roukema, Rene Russo and Donna Williams. “

  • March 25, 1998

    CAN: “Facing Autism 1999” Fundraiser

    “Facing Autism 1999” was the theme of a Hillsborough, California fundraiser held on the evening of March 25th.

    Thanks to the efforts of co-chairs Merton and Marva Hanks and Nanci and Gary Fredkin, a dedicated event committee, and celebrity supporters including Anthony Edwards, Rene Russo, Jerry Rice, Randal Cunningham and Merton Hanks, over a quarter of a million dollars was raised for CAN’s research, education and outreach programs. 

  • June 20, 1998

    CAN: A Night For Autism

    Ex- Seattle Mariner Bill Krueger and his wife Jo (parents of Chanel) hosted “A Night for Autism,” a benefit dinner and auction in Seattle. CAN was the grateful recipient of all proceeds — which netted over $75,000. 

  • Summer 1998

    CAN Celebrity Golf Classics

    Los Angeles, Southern New Jersey, Chicago and Vancouver were all sites for CAN Celebrity Golf Classics held throughout the summer of 1998. These events had the participation of celebrities including Dweezil Zappa, Bill Smitrovich, Matt Adler, Joe Mantegna, Cathy Lee Crosy, Bill Pullman, Jack Scalia, Grant Tinker, Scott Wolf, Ronny Cox and Glen Foley, just to name a few. 

  • July 1998

    Genetics of autism trip

    CAN Co-founder Portia Iversen and CAN Scientific Coordinator Dr. Dan Geschwind traveled to Nice, France to participate in a collaborative autism genetics research group meeting sponsored by P.A.R.I.S., the European consortium working on the genetics of autism. 

  • October 1998

    “Building Animal Models for Autism through Translational Neuroscience Research”

    CAN, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NAAR joined together in October 1998 for a historic event — the first ever animal model workshop in autism.

    “Building Animal Models for Autism through Translational Neuroscience Research” brought together world class experts in neuroanatomy, genetics, mouse genetics, primate behavior, brain imaging and developmental biology to formulate a plan for the development of this cutting edge methodology within the field of autism.”


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