World Autism Awareness Day

students enjoying a tree's shade

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) falls on April 2nd in 2024, which aims to bring attention and promote human rights and freedom for autistic people (those with autism spectrum disorder, ASD), with an equal basis and footing to others.

Ever since 2007, this being the 17th year of its celebration, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly commemorates April 2nd as the dedicated awareness day. The United Nations Department of Global Communications, in collaboration with the Institute of Neurodiversity (ION) also holds an observance event, which covers talks from all-autistic panelists speaking from a range of different continents and countries. They provide their thoughts and opinions on the state of affairs in their respective regions, and the implementation and significance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for autistic people. Learn more about WAAD at the United Nations official page.

It is important for both students here at the University of Reading, and people in general to be aware of the difficulties autistic people face in a range of different situations, and acknowledge that not all autistic people present in the same way. It is also incredibly significant to note that ASD is something you can be proud of and appreciate.

There are such a wide range of behaviours and symptoms which many people in general may not be entirely aware of (that I couldn’t possibly all list here, nor give a good enough depiction of in a short blog), and it can also often go undiagnosed. For example, although autism was previously thought to be more prevalent in males, it is now believed that this is due to girls and women more often being undiagnosed, or diagnosed later on than men due to family, caregivers, teachers etc. missing the signs early on as autistic females tend to mask their symptoms. To learn more about the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

In addition to this, every April, Autism Speaks, a non-profit autism awareness organisation and the largest autism research organisation in the United States, celebrates World Autism Month in April, as well as WAAD on April 2nd. During the month, they focus on sharing stories and creating opportunities that allow people to gain better understanding and impactful knowledge to better recognise and acknowledge what autism is and what it means. They hope to reach the goal of creating a world where autistic individuals are fully supported and have the support systems they need in place, as well as being truly accepted and celebrated. Visit the Autism Speaks website to learn more about how to get involved.

Informing people and having individuals gain a better understanding of autism spectrum disorder is extremely beneficial towards the overall aim of equal human rights and opportunities for those with ASD. During World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) and Autism Awareness Month, this is the perfect opportunity to become educated on ASD and read up on it, as you may learn something new and become more knowledgeable on the subject, with a novel appreciation and understanding of what it means to have and live with ASD.

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