Mar 29, 2011

MacNeil returns to NewsHour for special reports on autism

Robert MacNeil, co-founder of PBS NewsHour, is returning to the show to present Autism Today, a six-part series on the disorder that affects 1 in 110 children. MacNeil's 6-year-old grandson, Nick, has been diagnosed with autism. “I’ve been a reporter on and off for 50 years, but I’ve never brought my family into a story — until Nick, because he moves me deeply,” MacNeil said in a statement today (March 29). MacNeil and producer Caren Zucker, who has a 16-year-old son with the disorder, introduce the series on April 18.

In the first episode, MacNeil brings viewers to meet his daughter and grandson in Cambridge, Mass., to see how autism involves the whole family, including Nick's 10-year-old sister, Neely. Nick's autism hinders not only his brain development but also produces physical ailments affecting his whole body. Subsequent reports, which run through April 26, focus on topics including causes, treatment and adults with autism.

After each night’s broadcast there'll be online activities including live chats. Twitter users can hashtag #autismtoday to join in the conversation.

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