Special World bids you a warm welcome to this year’s World Autism Awareness Week, which takes place from Saturday 2 April to Friday 8 April 2016
Throughout the week organisations around the world will be holding events to highlight issues surrounding autism and to raise much-needed funds for research and resources.
The week kicked off with World Autism Awareness Day on Saturday 2 April when many global landmarks supported Light It Up Blue (#LIUB), an initiative of Autism Speaks. Among 11,000 buildings turned blue for the day including New York’s Empire State Building; Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro; Israel’s Knesset; the Eiffel Tower in Paris; the Borg Al-Arab Tower in Dubai; and the Story Bridge in Brisbane.
Light It Up Blue isn’t without its critics, however. Opponents say that the message behind it is that autism is a tragedy requiring a cure and that the emphasis should be on increasing acceptance rather than raising awareness. Perhaps the fact that such an important debate is taking place is due in no small part to the huge increase in awareness in recent years?
Saturday also saw the publication of a Presidential Proclamation by US President Barack Obama, which followed a United Nations commemorative event held on the Friday. Entitled Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity the latter included a keynote address by Steve Silberman, author of Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.
In the UK, activity in support of Autism Awareness Week is spearheaded by The National Autistic Society, which has also issued a new video, Can you make it to the end?, to highlight the issue of sensory overload.
Meanwhile in Australia Autism Awareness joined in Light It Up Blue with Sydney’s iconic Opera House the first to mark the start of the global event.
And don’t worry if you didn’t manage to plan your own event for this week as in some cases April has been designated Autism Awareness Month giving you plenty of scope to organise something in the next few weeks.
As for Special World, we have extensive coverage of autism in our archives with more to come. You can browse our current coverage here.