World Autism Awareness Day: History, Why it celebrated, Who Initiate
World Autism Awareness Day. Photo:

The fourteenth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2021.

Joined by the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes, and communities around the world come together on April 2, Autism Awareness Day, to Light It Up Blue in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them.

Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month, aiming to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, foster worldwide support, and inspire a kinder, more inclusive world.

History of Autism Awareness Day

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder characterized by behavioral and communicational affections that impact a person’s ability to navigate social interactions and also cause repetitive and restricted behavior.

The first historical appearance of the word “Autism” was made in 1911 by the psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, who used the term to describe a specific cluster of symptoms that were considered simple symptoms of schizophrenia as an extreme social withdrawal.

In that order, it was in 1943, when pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Leo Kanner characterized Autism as a social and emotional disorder in his article “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact”, and in 1944 Hans Asperger published his “Autism Psychopathology Article” where he described autism as a disorder of normal intelligence children who have difficulties with social and communication skills. These articles were an important contribution to the studies that helped to classified Autism as a disorder separate from schizophrenia in 1980.

With the continuous investigation and research on autism, World Autism Awareness Day was set to April 2 of each year by the “United Nations General Assembly” on “Resolution 62/139” and adopted on December 18 of 2007, to encourage member states to take action in raising awareness about people with autism spectrum disorder and support the research finding new ways to improve wellness and inclusion.

Finally, the notion of autism as a spectrum was developed in 2013 by the “American Psychiatric Association” in the fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” by combining all subcategories of autism and related conditions into one unified category, including varied characteristics, severity, and presentation of the symptoms, National today reported.

World Autism Awareness Day Timeline

World Autism Awareness Day: History, Why it celebrated, Who Initiate
Photo: neuromimetics

1970s: Pharmaceutical Treatments

Treatments included secretin injection and risperidone to act on dopamine receptors.

1995: Studies on the Asperger Syndrome

As a result of her 30 year study, Sula Wolff publishes that children with Asperger syndrome represent the most subtle and most able end of the autism spectrum because they become independent as adults and display exceptional gifts.

2007: World Autism Awareness Day

Created by the United Nations General Assembly, World Autism Awareness Day lands on April 2 every year.

2013: Autism is a Spectrum

The "American Psychiatric Association" develops a unified category of Autism Spectrum in the "Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders."

What Does it Mean to be “On the Spectrum?”

Approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To help spread awareness and support advocacy for this often misunderstood condition, on April 2, we recognize World Autism Awareness Day. To help do our part to strengthen understanding and acceptance for all those children, teenagers, and adults living with ASD, we share the information below to help explain what it means when someone says their son or daughter is “on the spectrum.”

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

ASD refers to a wide range of conditions characterized by difficulties with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

Why is Autism Known as a “Spectrum Disorder?”

Individuals diagnosed with ASD experience a wide variation in the severity and manifestation of their symptoms. Some individuals are highly functioning but may exhibit some social behavior challenges, positioning them at the lower end of the behavioral spectrum. At the opposite end are those who suffer from more complex behavioral difficulties. Such individuals may have limited speech or cognitive processing capabilities. In the middle of the spectrum, from the highest functioning, lowest symptomatic cases to those with the most complex challenges is a broad scope of millions of people with varying levels of behavioral, speech, and social condition complications.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of ASD?

A physician or trained mental health care provider will look to assess a variety of a child’s behaviors, cognitive processing abilities, and social understanding to determine if he or she has ASD. What follows are just some of the actions observed in those with ASD. Again, with it being a spectrum disorder, some individuals may not show all the behaviors listed below, while others may exhibit many of them, Novahealth cited.

World Autism Awareness Day: History, Why it celebrated, Who Initiate
Photo: time
Why it celebrated

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) aims to put a spotlight on the hurdles that people with autism and others living with autism face every day. As a growing global health issue owing to its increasing exposure in the press and common knowledge, autism is an issue that is only gaining more understanding and WAAD activities are planned every year to further increase and develop world knowledge of children and adults who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What’s more, World Autism Awareness Day goes one step further to celebrate the unique talents of those with autism, while putting a huge focus on the warm embrace and welcome that these skills deserve through community events around the globe, according to Awarenessdays.

What is the theme for World Autism Awareness Day?

Every year since 2012 the UN has given a theme as we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. So far, these are the themes that have been celebrated:

  • 2012 - Awareness Raising
  • 2013 - Celebrating the ability within the disability of autism
  • 2014 - Opening Doors to Inclusive Education
  • 2015 - Employment: The Autism Advantage
  • 2016 - Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity
  • 2017 - Toward autonomy and self-determination
  • 2018 - Empowering Women and Girls with Autism
  • 2019 - Assistive Technologies and Active Participation
  • 2020 - The Transition to Adulthood

In 2021, the UN has chosen Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World.

What Do People Do?

Many events are organized on World Autism Awareness Day. These include:

  • Panel discussions with autism experts, politicians and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives.
  • Informational events for parents of children with autism.
  • Conferences and workshops for professionals working with people with autism.
  • Artistic workshops for people with autism.
  • Television and radio shows, as well as newspaper features, about people with autism and their lives.
  • The launch of educational materials for parents and teachers.
  • Exhibitions of artwork by artists with autism.
  • The display of posters and banners to increase public awareness of autism.

Special clinics are also organized for families dealing with autism to obtain consultations with pediatricians, educational psychologists, and social workers, Time and date noted.

How to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day: History, Why it celebrated, Who Initiate
Photo: chinadaily

World Autism Awareness Day is often celebrated with a whole load of events and conferences. These are often informational and educational for teachers, parents and health care workers. There are also exhibitions and artistic workshops that occur around the country which showcase work created by children with autism. Television, radio shows and newspapers feature stories about people with autism and their lives, Twinkl wrote.

More ways of celebrating World Autism Awareness Day include:

  • Truly reflect to see how you can support people with autism in a way that changes lives.
  • Sharing information online to spread awareness in your online communities.
  • Support a local family whose child has autism.
  • Getting involved in events run by autism communities.
  • Listening to people you know who have autism about what it means to them.
  • Donate to an autism organization.
  • Engaging in discussions with your children so that they become aware and accepting of their similarities and differences.

Important Facts About Autism Awareness Day

According to the UN, autism is a lifelong neurological condition that is mainly characterized by unique social interactions, non-standard ways of learning, keen interests in specific subjects, inclination to routines, challenges in typical communications, and particular ways of processing sensory information.

Autism comes under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), where spectrum means a range of characteristics. There are four types of ASD – Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Development Disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), according to Firstpost.

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