World Autism Day is observed on April 2nd each year. This is a day to raise awareness and acceptance around the world for people with autism. To go along with World Autism Day, we use the month of April to recognize our friends and family with autism, as well as those who love and support them. World Autism Day was officially adopted in December 2007 by the United Nations and then started being observed in April 2008. On World Autism Day, and all of April, there are many different educational events for teachers, families, health care workers, and anyone so that all can become educated and continue to spread awareness.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of symptoms characterized by challenges with restrictive and repetitive behaviors, social skills, and verbal and nonverbal communication. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, each individual with autism can have a different set of strengths and challenges and they can also range in symptoms. Some individuals with autism may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Autism is typically diagnosed between ages 2 and 5 but many individuals can go undiagnosed for years depending on their symptoms. Early intervention provides children with the best resources and therapy options. In 2020 the CDC reported that 1 in 54 children were diagnosed with autism with boys being more likely to be diagnosed than girls. There are a variety of signs to look for including the following:
-Avoiding eye contact or minimal facial expressions
-Delayed speech and language, nonverbal
-Not responding to their name
-Not smiling back or imitating movements
-Repetition in language or movement (hand flapping or repeating the same word)
-Sensitivity to certain smells, textures, and sounds
Autism as a term was first used in 1911 by psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler. The word “autism” is derived from the Greek word “autos” that means “self” or “isolated self.” The term was used again in 1943 by Dr. Leo Kanner, a pediatric psychiatrist, who characterized autism as a social and emotional disorder. Then in 1944, Hans Asperger published an article on autism as a communication disorder in kids. Early on treatment for autism was limited. Unbelievably, parents were even blamed that their parenting techniques led to their child’s disorder. Between 1980 and 1990, autism was added into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which triggered the development of intensive behavioral therapy for children with autism. It wasn’t until 2013 that autism was classified as a spectrum disorder in the DSM-V.
To really understand autism and why we raise awareness for it, it’s important to do your research and learn about this developmental disorder. While we shared a little bit about it above, we encourage you to visit some of the following pages for continued information and even support groups on autism!
-CDC Developmental Milestones
Visit our Pintrest page to get educational images to share on social media all month and help raise awareness! Remember to tag PediaPlex when you post!
On World Autism Day, and the majority of April, you can typically find many local events going on to raise awareness for autism. There are panel discussions with autism experts, informational events for parents, conferences and workshops, and so much more.
To celebrate World Autism Day we are encouraging you to wear blue on Friday, April 2nd and share the hashtag “#LightItUpBlue” on social media! You can even change your profile image to show your support all month long. This has become a tradition, thanks to Autism Speaks, and we think it is a great way to show your support for our friends with autism. In some cities and countries you will even see landmarks participating with blue lights! Another great way to observe World Autism Day is to share the information we’ve shared above on your social media.
If your child has been diagnosed with autism and you are in need of therapy services, we would love to help! PediaPlex is the leading ABA therapy center in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with additional therapy services such as speech, feeding, and occupational therapy. Whether you are just beginning your child’s journey, or just needing to start at a new center, we are here for you. At PediaPlex, it is our goal to be a resource in the community. If you have questions about what steps to take with a new autism diagnosis, give us a call today at (817) 442-0222!
To observe World Autism Day with a friend who has autism, plan a day of sensory friendly activities with them like making your own sensory bottles or going to a sensory friendly park! Be sure to share your #LightItUpBlue pictures and use the hashtag #WorldAutismMonth!
-The PediaPlex Family