The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2016. On this date each year, autism organizations around the world hold events that raise awareness and funds.
The United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day on December 18, 2007, in response to a request by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar.
The resolution declares World Autism Awareness Day as one of only four United Nation Days dedicated solely to a health issue. It encourages all members of the United Nations to take specific measures to heighten awareness about autism and to encourage early diagnosis and intervention. The resolution also expresses deep concern about the high rate of autism and the developmental challenges it presents.
World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism, specifically as the rate of diagnosis continues to rise. Activities associated with the event help to increase awareness about life on the spectrum, develop public knowledge of the increase of incidence, and provide information regarding the value of early diagnosis and prompt intervention. April 2nd celebrates the unique skills and talents of people with autism and creates a warm, welcoming event that invites people to discuss autism.
Autism organizations all over the world come together on April 2nd each year to give a voice to the millions of people who are undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help. Some of the organizations include the United Nations, Autism Speaks and the Autism Society. Organizers invite everyone to participate in World Autism Awareness Day to inspire understanding, compassion, empowerment and hope.
Light It Up Blue
Autism Speaks created the Light It Up Blue campaign that encourages people to wear blue and light up their communities in blue light on Autism Awareness Day. The Light It Up Blue campaign reflects the UN’s intent of shining a bright light on autism as a global health priority. The intent of the Light It Up Blue campaign is to spread awareness and understanding of autism, celebrate and highlight the unique talents people with autism possess, and brings attention to the needs of people on the autism spectrum.
Autism Speaks maintains a World Autism Awareness Day Light It Up Blue Facebook account that encourages people to share their experiences with the autism spectrum across various social media channels using the hashtag #LIUB.
Hundreds of global landmarks will light up blue on April 2, 2016. Madison Square Garden and One World Trade Center in New York City and Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles will turn blue that day. Some of the tallest structures in the world will glow in blue light, including the tallest building in the world, the tallest twin towers in the world, the tallest building in California, the world’s largest aquarium and the tallest structure in Canada. Many of the world’s most famous churches and synagogues will turn on blue lights as well.
The United Nations
The United Nations (UN) declared “Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity” as its 2016 theme. The UN chose this theme because all forms of ability and disability, including autism, contribute to human diversity. Unfortunately, many cultures and societies marginalize the contributions of people with disabilities. The UN’s theme underscores the need to mainstream autism and other disabilities to ensure equality does not continue. Mainstreaming brings people with autism – and their contributions – into society.
In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which included 17 development goals. While all of the goals apply to all people, five explicitly reference people with disabilities. Specifically, the UN’s agenda goals promise integration into quality education, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, partnerships, sustainable cities and communities.
This year, the UN will observe World Autism Day by looking ahead to 2030 and considering how these new goals will improve the lives of people with autism through a series of panels, presentations and moderated discussions. The keynote speaker is Steve Silberman, author of Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. Programs include presentations on inclusive education, bridging inequality, creating accessible communities and partnerships for change.
The Secretary General of the UN will deliver a call to action appealing to employers to commit to offering work opportunities for people on the autism spectrum, who face an unemployment rate of up to 80 percent. The call to action will discuss how employers can improve the quality of their products by taking advantage of the special work skills many people with autism possess, such as superior attention to detail and pattern recognition.
The Autism Society
The Autism Society celebrates National Autism Awareness Month. During April, people celebrate through presidential and congressional declarations, online activities and local events. Individuals can celebrate by downloading, printing and distributing posters, recognizing someone with autism, signing up for a newsletter that delivers news about autism and by sharing stories and personal accounts about how autism has affected their lives.
The logo of The Autism Society is the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon, adopted in 1999 as the universal sign of autism awareness. The puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of autism while the bright colors depict the diversity of experiences with the autism spectrum.
This year, every autism organization encourages individuals and communities to join in World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Shine a light on autism by wearing blue, putting on a puzzle ribbon, printing a poster, sharing a story or reaching out to a person with autism.