World Autism Day, observed on April 2, is a day that's dedicated to raising awareness for the countless people affected by autism worldwide.
Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder, is a complex neurodevelopment disorder caused by impairments that occur when the brain and central nervous system are developing.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that due to these complications during development, people with ASD often show signs of social impairments, difficulties communicating, and restricted or repetitive behavior.
Researchers say the most obvious symptoms of autism develop between the ages of two and three.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 1 in every 68 children in the United States will have some kind of autism. And this number is on the rise, with an almost 30 percent increase in numbers of children with ASD since 2012.
In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared unanimously that April 2 was to be World Autism Awareness Day. Its first annual debut was on April 2, 2008.
The goal of World Autism Awareness Day is to raise awareness so the public can see that these individuals can have a fulfilled life, and to show that improvements are needed in the quality of life for autistic individuals.
Now eight years later since the UN's declaration, members of the international autism community and various autism organizations have sparked campaigns to continue to spread this awareness.
Autism awareness events and walks are held around the world by multiple non-profit autism organizations. The United Nations has continued its involvement, putting on events to raise awareness and help families with autistic members.
But worldwide awareness doesn’t happen in an instant. It starts with individuals communicating with other individuals and grows over time.
And it doesn’t stop after World Autism Awareness Day is over. You can keep showing your support throughout April because it is National Autism Awareness Month.
How can you help share and raise awareness this World Autism Awareness Day?
1) Help Light It Up Blue
Autism Speaks, an international non-profit autism organization, spreads awareness globally in commemoration of the UN-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day through their Light It Up Blue campaign.
You can raise awareness by filling your surroundings with the color blue, replacing your regular light bulbs for blue ones, putting blue lights on your house or blue filters over windows.
Your house won’t be the only thing that’s blue either. Landmarks around the globe will be aglow with blue lights, including the Empire State Building in New York.
2) Wear Blue Today or Craft an Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon to Wear All Month
Wearing a certain color is an easy way to spread awareness, so on April 2, 2015 wear blue to support the cause.
If you don’t own any blue, not to worry.
The Autism Society says that the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon was adopted as the universal symbol for autism in 1999. It's the most recognized symbol representing the autism community.
Print one at home and craft a pin, or find a picture of it online, and post it to your social media accounts. Wear it throughout April and help spread the word.
3) Blow Up Your Social Media
Social media wields incredible influence. Hundreds of people you know probably have accounts and are on them multiple times daily.
Show your support by changing your Facebook cover photo or Twitter banner to something that promotes the cause. Or utilize social media by spreading facts about autism and hash tagging #NAAM or #WAAD
If social media isn't your thing, join a Thunderclap that supports World Autism Awareness Day and it will post to your followers for you.
Every cent can make an impact on a large scale. If you want to donate there are multiple organizations that support autism research. A quick Internet search can help you find what you're looking for.
5) Participate in an Event
Various events are put on around the world. Do an Internet search of what is going on in your area that you can take part in. Many places even have physical activities like awareness walks.
National Institution of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Autism Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 1,2015.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC estimates 1 in 68 children has been identifies with autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved April 1,2015.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Retrieved April 1,2015.
Timeanddate.com. World Autism Awareness Day. Retrieved April 1,2015.
United Nations. 2015 Theme: Employment: The Autism Advantage. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
United Nations. Events in 2015. Retrieved April 1,2015.
Autism Society. National Autism Awareness Month. Retrieved April 1,2015.
Autism Speaks. World Autism Awareness Day. Retrieved April 1,2015.
Autism Speaks. Buildings. Retrieved April 1,2015.
Autism Speaks. Light it up blue campaign. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
Autism Society. The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
Thunder Clap. World Autism Awareness Day. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
Reviewed April 2, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith