World Autism Day is an annual celebration of autistic people to raise awareness of developmental disorders and neurodivergence.
You can show support on World Autism Day by posting about autism, celebrating neurodiversity at local events, and listening to the stories of neurodiverse individuals.
What Is World Autism Day?
Since autism is a spectrum disorder, there are many manifestations of this condition. While autism symptoms are likely to be apparent in children as young as 2 years old, many people do not receive an official diagnosis of autism until later in life.
This day is celebrated on April 2 every year, as designated by the United Nations. Some nations, like the United Kingdom, celebrate Autism Awareness Week around World Autism Day. Other countries, like the United States, also celebrate World Autism Month throughout April.
The History of World Autism Day
The United Nations prioritizes promoting and celebrating diversity among all nations. They highlight equal rights for all, including those who are neurodivergent, have physical disabilities, or have developmental disabilities like autism. This is why the UN promotes and supports World Autism Day.
In 2007, the National General Assembly at the UN declared April 2 to be World Autism Awareness Day, and it was supported by all member states unanimously. In 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was formed to ensure the full and equal rights of every human being, promoting universal human rights and protecting those who suffer from discrimination or violence. This convention protects neurodivergent individuals, including children and adults on the autism spectrum.
Ways to Show Support
One way to indicate that you support and care about people on the autism spectrum is to wear blue. This could be a blue ribbon, blue clothing, or a special blue shirt you can purchase from a nonprofit like Autism Speaks. Share a selfie with one of the hashtags, and spread the word about charitable events or educational events on social media.
You can get special blue light bulbs to show your family, friends, or coworkers that you support those on the spectrum. These bulbs are available for purchase at Home Depot.
There are lots of events to help yourself and your loved ones become more educated about what autism is and how to support people on the spectrum. You can donate to a charity, or you can get your friends and family to donate to your own personal fundraiser started on a donation platform such as GoFundMe.
Many autism advocates stress that autism awareness isn’t the goal since most people are aware of autism. Instead, autism acceptance is the goal.
Autism acceptance means listening to autistic individuals and learning from their stories. For many, World Autism Awareness Day jumpstarts a month dedicated to autism appreciation and broader acceptance.
Supporting Your Autistic Loved Ones
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 44 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
A pediatrician’s screening and diagnosis are typically very reliable by the time a child reaches 2 years old, although you may notice behavioral signs in your child when they are as young as 6 months. Screening for developmental disorders like autism is a common part of developmental monitoring and developmental screening in modern medicine.
Autism occurs at similar rates across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. However, boys are about four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Over time, autism diagnoses have become more common. In 2000, about 1 in 150 children received a diagnosis of autism. This increased diagnosis trend signifies changes in diagnostic criteria, along with more frequent and consistent childhood screenings.
A leading treatment to help children with autism, applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy can teach skills, improve communication, and promote independence.
ABA therapy does not attempt to change your child or “cure” them. ABA recognizes that much of the world is not built to support people on the autism spectrum. By teaching children with autism social cues and how to navigate complex communication, ABA therapy can help them to become independent adults.
Using the Day to Appreciate Autism
World Autism Awareness Day helps neurotypical individuals recognize that the world is a better place when we all understand neurodivergence, like autism spectrum disorder, and work to accommodate these differences.
No matter how you celebrate the day, it can be a good opportunity to stop and really listen to autistic people in your life and the world around you.
- World Autism Awareness Day. Autism Speaks.
- Background. United Nations.
- Secretary-General’s Message. United Nations.
- World Autism Awareness Day 2020: Here’s What You Should Know. (April 2020). News 18 Lifestyle.
- Light It Up Blue. Autism Speaks.
- Events. Autism Speaks.
- World Autism Awareness Day 2021: What You Need to Know. (April 2021). CNN.
- Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder. (September 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Originally Posted On: https://www.elemy.com/studio/autism/autism-awareness-day/