Each one of us is special and composed of a unique combination of shapes, sizes, and colors. Though we may have some things in common, there is beauty to be found in the fact that no individual person’s life, circumstances, or experiences are exactly the same.
These differences are what make us special, creating a beautifully diverse community made up of human beings who have different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, different interests, different skills, different cultures, different voices, and different appearances.
Just like every person comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors, so does autism spectrum disorder.
This year on World Autism Awareness Day, learn about autism spectrum disorder and how you can take part in a movement promoting acceptance, diversity, inclusion, and basic human rights for all people— including a group of people who are sadly often stereotyped, discriminated against, underestimated, underappreciated, and excluded from society—the autistic community.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability you are born with that is caused by differences in the brain.
These differences in the brain cause people with autism to experience the world differently than neurotypical people would.
For example, people with autism may find social interaction or communication difficult, continually focus on details, or respond unusually to specific sensations.
While the causes of autism are unknown, beyond sometimes being passed on to a child from their parents, there are things that we know for sure do NOT cause autism:
- Bad parenting
- Infection that can be spread to others
Being autistic is not synonymous with having an illness or disease, and it is not a medical condition that requires treatment or a “cure.”
Like anyone else, people with autism have varying levels of intelligence, whether that is below average, average, or above average and are perfectly capable of leading happy, fulfilling lives.
The Autism Spectrum—Autism Is Not the Same for All
There is an obvious reason that autism spectrum disorder specifically includes the word “spectrum” in its name. This is because Autism is on a spectrum—It varies between people and is not the same for all.
For example, some people with autism are able to live independently, while others will deal with severe disabilities that require life-long care and support.
At the end of the day, autism is experienced differently for each individual.
What are Some Symptoms Associated with Autism?
With the knowledge that autism is a spectrum and no two people’s experiences are exactly the same, it is important to remember that symptoms may vary from person to person.
However, in general, people with autism may:
- Find it difficult to understand what people are thinking or feeling
- Experience extreme anxiety about social situations
- Have trouble expressing their feelings or emotions
- Prefer to be on their own or find it hard to make friends
- Unintentionally come off as blunt, rude, or not interested in others
- Take things very literally—For example, not understanding sarcasm or sayings
- Maintain a daily routine and become anxious or upset if it is disrupted
- Avoid eye contact
- Not be aware of “social rules” such as speaking over someone who is already talking
- Get too close to people or become extremely upset if someone touches or gets too close to you
- Be particularly passionate about or obsessed with specific subjects or activities
- Like to carefully plan before doing things
- Notice small patterns, details, smells, or sounds that others do not
While all autistic people are born with the disorder, signs of autistic people may or may not be noticed when they’re very young—Oftentimes, they are not noticed until they are older.
What is World Autism Awareness Day?
World Autism Awareness Day is a day created to celebrate the contributions of people living with autism, as well as to continue to advance and advocate for their inherent rights.
On this day, everyone is encouraged to learn more about autism, listen to and learn from the real-life experiences of people with autism, advocate for the rights and inclusion of autistic people, and support the autistic community as a whole.
When is World Autism Awareness Day 2023?
World Autism Awareness Day is April 2nd every year.
In fact, the entirety of the month of April is designated as Autism Awareness Month.
This year, in 2023, World Autism Awareness Day falls on a Sunday.
How and When Did World Autism Awareness Day Start?
World Autism Awareness Day came into fruition because of the United Nation’s desire to not only embrace, but celebrate the beauty of diversity.
This passion for celebrating diversity and promoting the rights and well-being of people with disabilities is what fueled the United Nation’s decision to dedicate a day every year solely to raising awareness of autism, as well as the autistic community.
World Autism Awareness Day was officially adopted by the United Nations on 18 December in 2007. It was then declared at that time that April 2nd would be the decided date that World Autism Awareness Day would be celebrated each year.
The purpose of the day’s creation was “to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.”
Shortly following this decree, in 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities set into motion, “reaffirming the fundamental principle of universal human rights for all.”
This convention’s purpose was to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities,” as well as to “promote respect for their inherent dignity.”
This convention was a big step forward towards the development and fostering of an inclusive, kind, empathetic, and caring society for all people, regardless of their differences or disabilities.
Furthermore, it ensured that all children and adults in the autistic community would have the ability to lead full and meaningful lives.
How Can You Raise Awareness and Educate Yourself and Others About Autism?
There are several ways that you can raise awareness, educate yourself and others about autism, and support the autistic community.
Read below to see just some of the many ways that you can get support the autistic community and get involved in World Autism Awareness Day this year:
- Learn more about autism
- Listen to autistic people’s experiences
- Learn about some of the celebrities and most influential people in history with autism.
- Raise awareness about autism in your community
- Start or join autism campaigns
- Donate to autism organizations that include autistic people in their program, as well as advocate for the rights of people with autism
- Support companies and businesses that are artistic-friendly
- Go to events that support autism in your community
- Participate in the virtual event “Transformation: Toward a Neuro-Inclusive World for All”
- Attend events in which all raised funds go towards supporting the autistic community
- Promote love, acceptance, and diversity
7 Autism Awareness Day Quotes That Will Inspire You
1. “Autism is like a rainbow. It has a bright side and a darker side. But every shade is important and beautiful.”
2. “I’m proud to be autistic and on the rainbow spectrum! Our honesty, direct focus, intense love for our passions, and a deep sense of injustice are traits that the world needs right now.”
3. “Our experiences are all unique. Regardless, I do believe that it is important to find the beautiful. Recognize that there is bad, there is ugly, there is disrespect, there is ignorance, and there are meltdowns. Those things are inevitable. But there is also good.”
4. “I do not suffer from Autism, but I do suffer from the way you treat me.”
5. “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
6. “When it comes to ensuring that persons with autism enjoy the rights and freedoms to which we are all entitled, we must recommit to promoting acceptance of persons with autism.”
7. “We’ve come a long way when it comes to awareness — now it’s time for people to accept autism, allowing people, like myself, to be ourselves and benefit society along the way.”