Since 2012, there has been a 30% increase in the number of children affected by autism, making it a growing health concern. World Autism Awareness Day, observed on April 2 of each year, is dedicated to raising awareness about this disorder.
The History of World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day was established on December 18, 2007, by the United Nations General Assembly. The resolution 62/139 included the participation of all UN organizations and its member states. It was created as a standing request to the UN Secretary-General to move forth the message of raising awareness about autism to the world.
The History of Autism
Autism was first described in 1943 by an Austrian-American physician and psychiatrist named Dr. Leo Kanner. However, it was originally considered to be a form of schizophrenia. In the early to mid-1900s, doctors in Switzerland, Russia, Austria, and the US made strides toward understanding autism as a disorder.
World Autism Awareness Day Timeline
- 1943: Autism is first described
- 1980: DSM-III lists criteria for autism
- 1994: Autism is first seen as a spectrum disorder
- 1999: Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is adopted
- 2007: World Autism Awareness Day is established
What is Autism?
The signs of autism can appear as early as infancy or later in childhood, and the disorder progresses steadily without remission. The disorder is characterized by three separate symptoms: difficulty socializing, communication problems, and a limited number of interests combined with repetitive behavior. Autism is no longer classified as a single disorder but rather an entire spectrum ranging in severity.
Asperger Syndrome is a disorder on the autism spectrum that often leads to problems with social interaction with peers. Those with Asperger Syndrome may struggle to understand nonverbal cues and may have difficulty interpreting tone, context, and sarcasm. However, individuals with Asperger Syndrome may present with areas of intelligence that are much stronger than others, such as reading, language, music, or spatial skills.
How to Observe World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day can be observed by raising awareness, hosting an event, or lighting up blue. Raising awareness for autism involves discussing the challenges of those on the autism spectrum and spreading kindness and understanding. Hosting an event can bring families together to share their stories and build community. Lighting up blue is a campaign sponsored by the Autism Speaks organization to signal support for those affected by autism.
Learn More About Autism
Learning more about autism can be done by reading books or doing internet research. Some excellent books to teach children about autism include “Looking After Louis” by Lesley Ely, “Andy and His Yellow Frisbee” by Mary Thompson, “My Friend with Autism” by Beverly Bishop, and “All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome” by Kathy Hoopmann.
World Autism Awareness Day FAQs
- What is World Autism Awareness Day? World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day where people raise awareness for those with autism spectrum disorder.
- What color is World Autism Awareness Day? Light Up Blue is a campaign sponsored by the Autism Speaks organization, although the multi-colored puzzle piece ribbon is also a symbol of World Autism Awareness Day.
- How to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day? Many people celebrate this day by taking the Autism Speaks pledge, making a donation, or following on social media.
- When is World Autism Awareness Day? World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2 of each year.
- When was the first World Autism Awareness Day? This day was first declared by the United Nations in late 2007 and scheduled to be celebrated on April 2, 2008.
Raise awareness and support those affected by autism on World Autism Awareness Day.