Every year, April 2 is observed as the World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations first recognised the date in 2008 on being suggested by Sheikh Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of a former Emir of Qatar who had been associated with several educational and social reforms in the country. The idea was accepted by all member states and after known as Autism Acceptance Day initially, it was called as World Autism Awareness Day.
World Autism Awareness Day is one of the four health-specific awareness days that are observed by the UN.
On this day, raising of funds, autism-friendly events, welfare initiatives and spreading of scientific knowledge take place across the world. One of the most prominent events of this day is the Light It Up Blue initiative whereby landmarks across the US are lit up in royal blue to honour autistic people.
Autism is a social communication disorder which varies from person to person. An autistic person has difficulties with social communication, skills and awareness and find themselves in a rigid behavioural mode. Autistic people often show interest in a narrow range of activities that are unique for each person.
As per the World Health Organisation, around one in 160 children has autistic disorder which begins in childhood and carries on into adulthood. This means around 45 million people suffer from this disorder on this planet.
Autism is considered more as a spectrum because its intensity varies from person to person, making it difficult to classify the disorder. For convenience, those suffering from autism spectrum can be broadly divided into high-functioning and low-functioning with the former able to live independently and latter requiring a life-long support.
Men are more susceptible to autism than women, in fact by four times. Though autism is no illness that can be bettered with treatment, some autistic people respond well to behavioural therapy techniques.
Though there is no single reason that causes autism, environmental and genetic factors can contribute to this disorder.
Raising awareness about autism is important to integrate autistic people into the society and help them lead a meaningful life despite having serious limitations in communicating with people around them.