World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day

Held on April 2nd of every year, World Autism Awareness Day is a holiday designed to increase awareness about the related spectrum disorder. It is officially observed by the United Nations as well as other non-governmental organizations across the globe. Not only is increased awareness important to activists, but it is also an opportunity for affected families to come together and support each other.

Autism Defined

Autism is a developmental disorder. Formally known as autism spectrum disorder, this medical condition develops in early childhood. By the age of three, affected children may exhibit numerous developmental delays. Speech and cognitive skills are among the most common delays. In many cases, autistic children do not have an interest in socializing with others and they are obsessed with repetition. This makes it difficult for them to adapt to new environments.

Treating autism requires a combination of treatments, such as behavioral, speech and occupational therapies. Some children may require medications for hyperactivity. While treatments help, there is no cure for autism. Therefore, early detection is crucial in the overall treatment of the disorder. World Autism Awareness Day was created to help promote such early detection so children in all countries get the services they need to improve their lives. Autism affects children of all gender, races, ethnicities and backgrounds.


The concept of a holiday dedicated to autism was founded by the United Nations. In 2007, the organization voted on dedicating April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. It was first officially held on April 2, 2008. It is a worldwide holiday that has supporters increasing awareness through education and activism in various countries across the globe.


World Autism Awareness Day is primarily celebrated through educational efforts. Autism rates are on the rise, but it is not clear if this is due to increased diagnoses or if more children are actually getting the disorder. No matter what the reason, early intervention is important in the success and overall quality of life. While symptoms may be apparent before the age of three, many families are afraid to take action, or they don’t know about the disorder. One of the goals of this holiday is to provide education about autism so parents can provide medical and behavioral intervention right away.

Research is ongoing in autism. There is still no one direct cause, and there is no cure. Proponents of World Autism Awareness Day may host fundraisers or write letters to help support autism research. Scientists hope to find the cause someday so that better treatments may be available. Other supporters encourage increased availability of resources, such as behavioral therapies, for families who cannot otherwise afford them.

Another aspect of World Autism Awareness Day is support for affected families. Due to the way many autistic patients do not like to socialize, other family members may feel isolated. World Autism Awareness Day shows parents that they are not alone in the struggle, and many form lifelong friendships to help carry them through this journey.

Other organizations and entities are jumping on the bandwagon to support this holiday. For example, the Empire State Building held a lighting event in 2012 for World Autism Awareness Day.

While this is a global holiday, it is not recognized by public governments. Public schools remain open, although some autism groups may hold special days for celebrations.