What to Know About World Autism Day

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 is the 11th annual World Autism Day. Around the world, buildings and landmarks with shine will blue lights to raise awareness and increase recognition of those who live with autism. This will be followed by a month-long program of autism-friendly events that aim to foster acceptance and understanding.

Light it Up Blue

The Light it Up Blue initiative was started in 2010 by Autism Speaks. Last year, buildings, landmarks and businesses turned their lights blue to raise awareness. Over 170 countries participated on all 7 continents. While many view this day as an important way to raise awareness for autism, the initiative has engendered some controversy, with criticisms being aimed at the language of pathology used by Autism Speaks, as well as their financial standing as a charity. Many people, especially families of autistic children, would prefer to spread a message of acceptance for all who may be neurologically atypical, not just click-and-share social media “awareness.”

Empowering Women and Girls with Autism

Over at the United Nations, the General Assembly has adopted a resolution to observe World Autism Awareness Day with the message of “empowering women and girls with autism,” to focus on the way ways that gender dynamics and gender discrimination intersect with disability. Their resolution noted that women with disabilities have a lower rate of employment than both women without disabilities and men with disabilities. The UN will host moderated discussions with advocates and other experts to explore this and other challenges faced by women and girls with autism. More information can be found here.

What are some common myths about Autism?

Raun Kaufman, CEO & Founder, Autism Treatment Center of America, describes the 4 most common misconceptions about autism:

Myth #1: Autism is a behavioral disorder

Reality: Autism is a social relational disorder

Myth #2: Treatment should focus on changing behavior

Reality: Treatment should focus on creating a relationship

Myth #3: Social limitations should be compensated for by teaching an autistic child different skills

Reality: Helping an autistic child relate to other people is crucial

Myth #4: Parents get in the way of treatment

Reality: Parents should be at the center of treatment for their autistic child

Get Involved

To be part of autism awareness, this year or next, there are a few things you can do:

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Laurie Breen

Laurie Breen is a freelance writer well-versed in research communications and grant writing. She received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Smith College and has worked previously at the University of Queensland's Centre for Clinical Research in Brisbane, Australia. Her favorite conversational topic is "antibiotic-resistant bacteria," making her a big hit at parties.