AU Watch

World Autism Awareness Day

2 April

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and it has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/139, tabled by the State of Qatar, in 2007 to declare 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD).

World Autism Awareness Day shines a light on autism as a growing global health problem. Part of this day is the Light It Up Blue campaign, where over 160 countries worldwide get involved in the awareness campaign by lighting up landmarks, buildings and cities all around the world. The South African public is encouraged to shine blue lights, hoist blue flags and weare blue clothes as a symbol of solidarity with persons with autism and their families’ struggles to be recognised as equal citizens.

Activities surrounding the day help to increase and develop world knowledge of autism and stress the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.

More about autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. ASD is a neurological disability and people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.

The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely impaired. Some people with ASD need high support (a lot of help and intensive intervention) while others need low support (less help and less intensive intervention).

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are characterised, in varying degrees, by

difficulties in social interaction,
verbal and nonverbal communication,
repetitive behaviours and
differences in sensory perception.