World Autism Day is celebrated every year on 2 April to raise awareness about people with autistic spectrum disorders throughout the world.
Here’s what you need to know about it and how to get involved.
What is World Autism Day?
Every year since 2008, United Nations (UN) member states have been encouraged to observe World Autism Awareness Day in order to raise awareness of autism and aspergers syndrome around the world.
Buildings, homes and communities come together on April 2 in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them.
Autism-friendly events and educational activities also usually take place throughout April, as part of World Autism Awareness Month.
These aim to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, alongside encouraging worldwide support and a kinder, more inclusive world.
What is autism?
The National Autistic Society explains that, “Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.
“Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways.
“Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop.”
What is this year’s theme?
This year’s World Autism Awareness Day 2021 theme is ‘Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World’
The UN said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and heightened glaring inequalities around the world, especially when it comes to income and wealth distribution, access to health care, protection under the law, and political inclusion.
"Persons with autism have long faced many of these inequalities, which have only been further exacerbated by the pandemic. It’s a problem made worse by long recognised discriminatory hiring practices and workplace environments that present major obstacles for persons with autism; all of which contribute to the unemployment or severe underemployment of a large majority of adults on the autism spectrum.”
Although some employers have recently launched inclusive employment programmes, which accommodate people with diagnoses of autism and related conditions, the “pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the efforts of companies to implement these new models,” the UN added.
World Autism Awareness Week 2021
World Autism Awareness Week, which is organised by the National Autistic Society, runs from Monday 29 March to Sunday 4 April 2021.
The National Autistic Society said: “This year’s World Autism Awareness Week (29 March – 4 April) feels more important than ever. It’s an opportunity to think about the society we want to live in when we leave lockdown – and the small things we can all do to make it work better for autistic children, adults and their families.”
The Society also said it wants everyone to understand five things about autism that autistic people and families say are most important to them.
These are that autistic people can:
- feel anxiety about changes or unexpected events
- be under or over sensitive to sound, smells, light, taste and touch (this is called sensory sensitivity)
- need time to process information, like questions or instructions
- face high levels of anxiety in social situations
- have difficulties communicating and interacting with others.
How to get involved from home
You can still get involved with World Autism Awareness Week from home, with these suggestions from the National Autistic Society.
You could take part in the Super 7 Challenge – formerly known as 7k for 700k – by doing something such as running, walking or cycling to creating art, music or food. You just need to choose your own 7-themed activity.
You could also take part in an Autism Awareness Week quiz, donate or even download official social media images to show post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin to show your support.