According to a 2016 United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among 11 surveillance sites was 1 in 54 among 8-year-old children. The report also found ASD diagnoses in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. As the identification of ASD becomes more common across the world, the month of April has become a designated observance for World Autism Month.
The autism advocacy organization founded in 2005, Autism Speaks, established World Autism Month to focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support. The month begins with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and continues to emphasize the power to foster kindness within communities.
The Light It Up Blue initiative was created by Autism Speaks in 2010. Since that time, joined by the international autism community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world light blue on April 2 for World Autism Awareness Day and in recognition of people with autism.
During the remainder of April, Autism Speaks encourages and empowers others to lead, learn, connect, care and give with kindness. To aid the organization in achieving this goal, people are asked to support funding research for individuals who benefit from better treatments of medical conditions that often accompany autism. They can also choose to participate in the #LearnWithKindness initiative for schools to celebrate and support acceptance, understanding and inclusion with daily acts of kindness.
The #LearnWithKindness campaign asks that each day, participants reveal a kindness or fundraising challenge on a fun, interactive school or work calendar. This initiative is designed to work in virtual, in-person or hybrid settings, where everyone will love completing daily activities and reaching fundraising milestones to earn Autism Speaks “kindness swag.” Register for the campaign here.
Although this campaign is a great way to observe World Autism Month, kindness is always in season. That is why the #LearnWithKindness campaign lasts throughout the year entirely, helping propel the world one step closer toward becoming a place where all people with autism can reach their full potential. Other ways people can support the autism community include:
- Committing to take action toward a kinder world.
- Sharing resources and stories on social media to increase understanding and acceptance.
- Advocating to help advance policies that positively impact the autism community.
- Starting a kindness campaign at school or work.
More about Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The organization does this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Autism Speaks currently employs and engages autistic people, parents, relatives, professionals and representatives who have experience and knowledge of autism. The organization also advocates for research advancements that improve the quality of life for autistic people and empower appropriate and personalized treatments or therapies in the future. Autism Speaks wants all voices in the community to be heard throughout the work done to fulfill the organizational mission.