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April 2, 2018: World Autism Awareness Day

"Autism offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by" - Dr. Colin Zimbleman

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD)! Today brings individual autism organizations together all around the world to aid in things such as research, diagnoses, treatment, and overall acceptance.

A little history for you…

WAAD was proposed by UN representative from Qatar, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned. Every year, WAAD is internationally recognized to encourage members of the UN to raise awareness about people with autism; it is one of only four official health-specific UN Days.

The original resolutions had four main parts:

The establishment of the second day of April as World Autism Awareness Day, beginning in 2008

Invitation to Member States and other relevant organizations to the UN or the international societal system, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to create initiatives to raise public awareness of autism

Encourages Member States to raise awareness of autism on all levels in society

Asks the UN Secretary-General to deliver this message to member states and all other UN Organizations

Every Year World Autism Awareness Day has a Theme….

And for their 10th year, the 2018 World Autism Awareness Day observance at the United Nations Headquarters New York will focus on the importance of empowering women and girls with autism. One way they will do this is by involving them and their representative organizations in policy and decision making to address these challenges.

Why this theme?

In November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution drawing attention to the particular challenges that women and girls with disabilities face in the context of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This expressed concern that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple forms of discrimination that limit their enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Girls with disabilities are less likely to complete primary school and more likely to be marginalized or denied access to education. Women with disabilities have a lower rate of employment that both men with disabilities and women without disabilities. Women and girls with disabilities experience gender-based violence at higher rates as well. This year’s theme is to bring more awareness to these barriers and hopefully help begin to break them down. Let the year of the woman continue!

What do you Light it Up Blue for?

Light It Up Blue, generally associated with Autism Speaks, is dedicated to raising awareness of autism. This campaign is to spread international awareness for both World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month in the United States. Iconic landmarks around the globe and airports, bridges, museums, hospitals, retail stores are lit up in bright blue on the evening of April 1st. In 2017, President Donald Trump fulfilled his promise to Suzanne Wright (co-founder of Autism Speaks) by lighting the White House blue in honor of World Autism Day.

Has the Awareness Made an Impact?

In a 2015 speech, President Obama highlighted some of the initiatives that the US government was taking to bring rights to those with autism and to bring awareness to the disorder. One thing he highlighted was The Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition such as autism. He also highlighted Autism CARES Act of 2014, which provides higher level training for those who are serving citizens on the autism spectrum.

Here’s Some Facts You Should Know About Autism and People with Autism:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins in early childhood

It is a life-long condition that has no medical cure

Autistic people see, hear, and feel the world differently. Every autistic person is different and faces different sets of challenges.

An autistic person faces difficulties with social communication and social interaction, has restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors, activities or interests since early childhood.

From an early age, many autistic people have intense and highly-focused interests. These can change over time or be life long.

Autistic people may also experience over--or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colors, temperatures or pain.

“It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village” - Coach Elaine Hall
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