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World #Autism Awareness Day – April 2

World Autism Awareness Day Logo

Thanks to a United Nations Resolution, April 2 is now recognized as World Autism Awareness Day.  The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2015.

Have an Autism Hero in your life? Know someone who works hard to make sure families living with autism have the support they need? Have a flag waver in your community who tirelessly battles to make sure people have the correct information about autism?  Today, let’s support them.

My first request would be to ask friends and family to observe today by becoming more educated about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The media are likely to be cranking out human interest pieces about it and running comprehensive programming today about ASDs, especially in light of the new data released by the Centers for Disease Control last week.  Please bear in mind, sensationalism creeps into media reporting about autism just like everything else. There’s no substitute for researching and researching some more.

Each April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores “go blue”. The campaign highlights the pressing need for greater public education and awareness of autism in our communities.   Our family will change our the light bulbs on our front porch for blue bulbs again this year.  We keep them up all month!

national autism month

Here are some great ideas to help you celebrate World Autism Day:

  1. Update your Facebook status to tell your friends you are supporting World Autism Awareness Day
  2. Raise awareness in your community by telling someone about your experience of autism or ask someone about autism to learn more yourself
  3. Light It Up Blue with Autism Speaks
  4. Tell us about someone who has helped you or someone with autism and celebrate them today
  5. Wear blue to work or school and encourage others to do so, too
  6. Have a little Princess Elsa or Percy Jackson at your house? Eat blue food with your kids! Check out my Blue Foods Pinterest board for some ideas.

Some MYTHS about Autism:

MYTH:  All people with autism have a extraordinary ability like the Dustin Hoffman character in the film Rainman.

FACT:  People with autism who have an extraordinary talent are referred to as ‘autistic savants’. Savants are rare: Between 2 and 3% of the population have some degree of learning disability, but only 0.06% of these were initially estimated to possess an unusually high level of specific ability. Savant ability is more frequently associated with those having some form of autism rather than with other disabilities. Current thinking holds that at most 1 or 2 in 200 individuals with an autism spectrum disorder might have a genuine savant talent.

MYTH:  Asperger syndrome is a middle class malady made up by parents to excuse their badly behaved children.

FACT:  Asperger syndrome is a very real and very disabling condition that has its own set of diagnostic criteria. It is often diagnosed slightly later than autism at around 11-13 years but its effects are just as real and can be devastating if people’s needs are not met.

MYTH: Only children have autism and they can get better or grow out of it.

FACT:  Autism is a lifelong developmental disability with no cure. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism. Autism is a complex developmental disability involving a biological or organic defect in the functioning of the brain.

MYTH: Autism is a new phenomenon.

FACT:  The first detailed description of a child we now know had autism was written in 1799 by Jean Itard in his account of the wild boy of Aveyron.

MYTH: People with autism wish to avoid social contact.

FACT:  People with autism are often keen to make friends but, due to their disability, find this difficult.

MYTH: Autism is due to parental rejection or cold, unemotional parents.

FACT:  Autism has nothing whatsoever to do with the way parents bring up their children.


What will you do on World Autism Day?  Does your community do anything special?  Who is your Autism Hero?