World Autism Awareness Day is annually marked on 2 April. The day seeks to raise awareness among people about the developmental disorder and to remove the stigma associated with it.
World Autism Awareness Day also aims to encourage the member states of the United Nations to take appropriate measures to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder and to help people diagnosed with this condition.
The day was established by a United Nations General Assembly resolution. The first World Autism Awareness Day was observed on 2 April, 2008.
What is Autism?
The United Nations defines autism as a "lifelong neurological condition" that develops during early childhood. Also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, the condition constitutes a diverse group of conditions related to development of the brain, according to the World Health Organization.
According to National Today, the term autism was first used in 1911 by the psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler. The term was used to describe a cluster of symptoms that were then considered to be simple symptoms of schizophrenia. It was in 1943 when pediatric psychiatrist Dr Leo Kanner identified autism as a social and emotional disorder.
For long, people with autism have been neglected and left out from mainstream society. World Autism Awareness Day aims to garner support for people living with the condition, while also raising awareness about it. The idea behind observing this day is to make societies more inclusive for people with the condition.
Each year, World Autism Awareness Day has a different and unique theme and this year's theme for the day is "Inclusive Quality Education For All".
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were shut and classes were held online. This had a disproportionate impact on students suffering from autism. This theme aims to highlight what more can be done to provide inclusive and quality education for people with autism.