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Today is World Autism Awareness Day

by Sally Willbanks
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Today is World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day was passed by the United Nations on 1 November 2007 and adopted on 18 December 2007.  The establishment of April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day began in 2008.  Each World Autism Awareness Day has a theme that is determined by the UN, with 2020’s theme being “The Transition to Adulthood”.

It seems difficult to think of anything other than the Coronavirus during this Covid-19 pandemic, but I think it is extremely important to acknowledge World Autism Awareness Day.  These uncertain times are causing higher levels of anxiety in an already anxiety-prone community.  Some autistic people will not be able to access their basic services they require to keep themselves functioning on a daily basis.  Many autistic people are used to isolating themselves, but not to the extremes we are facing today, and others will have a difficult time receiving much-needed medical care.  They have faced major changes in routine, and unfamiliar support staff and surroundings.  This is a day to bring awareness to this community of people who are living in a world that does not accommodate them, pandemic or not.

The autism rate has climbed to 1 in 54 people, and in the next ten years, 500,000 autistic people will transition into adulthood.  One way or another, autism affects everyone.  I wish we didn’t need to have a day to bring awareness to autism.  I wish that the world was autism-aware every day, and that autism acceptance was a natural occurrence.  I wish that autistic people would have the support that they need as they transition into adulthood, that their services wouldn’t drop off at age 18, or 21.  I wish that workplaces were more accommodating, that hiring processes were different, that autistic people had the same chance of getting suitable employment as neurotypical people.  I wish more people understood autistics and what is important to them, and the fact that functioning labels and levels of diagnoses are harmful and incorrect.  When you question autistic people, you will find that the things that affect them the most are all controllable by allistic people.  There is so much that still needs to be done to help the autistic community, which is why World Autism Awareness Day is so important.

So, on this day I honor my son as the most important autistic person in my life.  I will strive to support him, understand him, encourage him and love him, as he, in return, inspires me.

Happy World Autism Day!

by Sally Willbanks


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