World Autism Awareness Day
By: Lauren Buckley, Intern
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is referred to as a “neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave” (nimh.nih.gov, n.d.). Research shows that a person’s genes can act together with aspects of their environment to affect development in ways that lead to ASD (nimh.nih.gov, n.d.). Diagnosis of ASD requires professional evaluation from a health care provider. ASD has been found to be reliably diagnosed by age 2, which points to the importance of early evaluation and treatment.
World Autism Awareness Day is annually recognized on April 2nd. This day facilitates the process of bringing awareness to Autism Spectrum Disorder. During this month, there is a focus on “sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support” (Autismspeaks.org, n.d.).
The history of autism began in the early to mid 1900s when European psychiatrists began diagnosing the disorder, although at the time it was considered to be a form of schizophrenia (daysoftheyear.com, 2022). Doctors in several countries throughout the world contributed toward its investigation. Specifically, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, and the United States were a few of the prominent countries who made strides toward the understanding of autism as a disorder (daysoftheyear.com, 2022). World Autism Day was then established on December 18th, 2007 by the United Nations as a dedication to raising awareness of autism in the general community (daysoftheyear.com, 2022). It functions as a standing request to the UN Secretary-General to move forth this message to the world, particularly to all of the UN member states (daysoftheyear.com, 2022).
There are several ways to observe World Autism Awareness Day. Behrend (2022) lists a few ideas. One way is to share information about ASD is through online methods. This can facilitate the expansion of awareness and knowledge to those that may not understand or be less familiar with ASD. Another way is to get involved with autism associations. Getting involved with associations also helps familiarize others with information and awareness of ASD. Spending time with individuals with ASD, volunteering, or working somewhere that serves individuals with ASD can also support the process of understanding ASD and how individuals can present in uniquely different ways. Additionally, attending informational events, speaking out to eliminate stigma, and using social media including hashtags such as #WorldAutismDay can support further awareness.
Understanding the fact that individuals with ASD may present in different and unique ways is important to keep in mind. Acknowledging and respecting individual differences is integral to support those with ASD. Some individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder may have particular ways of communicating, behaving, learning, and expressing themselves. Individuals may also receive different areas of support, services, and resources throughout their daily life. This may include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, and more. Other interventional methods may include different types of educational programs, support groups, medication options, and more.
For additional support, one can visit the National Autism Association website at https://nationalautismassociation.org/ for more resources, guides, and tips for families and schools.
Autismspeaks.org. (n.d.). World Autism Awareness Day. Autism Speaks. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-awareness-day
Behrend, M. (2022, April 4). World Autism Awareness Day – April 2. National Today. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://nationaltoday.com/world-autism-awareness-day/
Daysoftheyear.com (2022, September 7). World Autism Awareness day. Days Of The Year. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/world-autism-day/
Nimh.nih.gov (n.d.). Autism Spectrum Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd