By Alice Jara, Hon. BA, Program Manager, Central East Autism Program, Kinark Child and Family Services
There are tens of millions of people around the world living with autism, a developmental disorder that has received significant media coverage in recent years, and has been the subject of choice for several movies, TV shows and books.
But that doesn’t mean it is widely understood. There remains around the world unacceptable discrimination, abuse and isolation experienced by people with autism and their loved ones. That discrimination is part of the reason behind World Autism Awareness Day, taking place on April 2 and adopted by the UN in 2007 to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder.
April 2nd, 2015 is the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), throughout the globe the autism community comes together to raise both awareness and acceptance of autism.
WAAD shines a bright blue light on autism as a growing global health concern. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of autism and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Currently the autism prevalence rate according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) was reported last March to be as high as 1 in 68.
Autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disorders characterized by social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is no biological test for autism, nor do researchers know its cause, although a rapidly growing body of scientific research suggests it is a combination of genetic and outside or “environmental” factors. Autism spectrum disorder is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
And do remember that autism awareness does not end on April 2nd. Every day should be World Autism Awareness Day. Let’s all work to do our part. Here are a few ways you can participate:
- Attend an Autism Ontario flag raising ceremony on April 2nd
Autism Ontario will be raising flags, to raise awareness. Click the following link to see all of Autism Ontario’s flag raising events: http://www.autismontario.com/
To confirm participation in your area, go to your local chapter of Autism Ontario’s website.
On April 2nd, Kinark staff will be attending flag raisings throughout York region, including Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.
Staff will also be speaking at the Markham flag-raising: 101 Town Centre Boulevard at 9:30 a.m. Feel free to join us!
- Light it Up Blue on April 2nd
Kinark staff will also be wearing blue on April 2nd to support Autism Speak’s Light it Up Blue initiative. Click here for more information on how you can participate:https://www.autismspeaks.org/liub/how-to-liub
Recommended Reading, by Alice:
Love Anthony – by Dr. Lisa Genova (Simon & Schuster)