World Autism Awareness Day

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World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day is a nationally observed day on the 2nd of April every year, encouraging Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about children with autism throughout the world. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution "62/139. World Autism Awareness Day", passed in council on November 1, 2007, and adopted on December 18, 2007. It was proposed by the United Nations representative from Qatar, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and supported by all member states.[1][2][3]

This resolution was passed and adopted without a vote in the UN General Assembly - mainly as a supplement to previous UN initiatives to improve human rights.[3] Since its creation the awareness of autism issues have been brought all over the world and autism researched as boomed as a result.

World Autism Day is also one of only four official health-specific UN Days. The day itself brings individual autism organizations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and overall awareness for those with the disorder and looking for help.[4]


The original resolution had four main components:

  • the establishment of the 2nd day of April as World Autism Awareness Day, beginning in 2008
  • invitation to Member States and other relevant organizations to the UN or the international societal system, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to create initiatives to raise public awareness of autism
  • encourages Member States to raise awareness of autism on all levels in society
  • asks the UN Secretary-General to deliver this message to member states and all other UN organizations[5]

Notable Initiatives[edit]

April 2, 2008[edit]

The First autism Awareness Day was highly mandated and hosted by the UN branches around the world. The highlighted events were held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The events hosted by the UN includes a panel discussion sponsored by Qatar and the UN representative responsible for the resolution, along with the World Health Organization and the NGO Autism Speaks. In addition, there was a briefing held for NGO's on topics relating to autism awareness. Both of these events focused on personal efforts for awareness raising and eliminating negative stigma associated with autism. In addition, there were highlights on the struggles of people with autism and the importance of better understanding the disorder.[3]

Autism Speaks[edit]

This is considered one of the largest non-governmental organization in the field of efforts to raise awareness to autism, further research, and act as an advocate to those with the disorder. This group is considered to lead the field in science and advocacy, and is a leader in research dealing with causes, prevention, treatments and cures. They also act as a large support system for families of an autistic person.[6]

Light It Up Blue[edit]

Light It Up Blue is one of the larges initiatives posed by Autism Speaks. It is observed on WAAD, and is a dedication to autism awareness.


Autism Ontario celebrates World Autism Awareness Day by "Raising a Flag" for autism. Municipalities around Ontario raise a flag to raise awareness for autism in their region.[7]

Onesie Wednesday[edit]

In 2014 WAAD coincided with Onesie Wednesday, a day created by the National Autistic Society to encourage people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to show their support for anyone on the autistic spectrum. By wearing a onesie or pyjamas, participants are saying, "it’s all right to be different".[8]


United States[edit]

The United States is a major proponent of human rights. In a 2015 Presidential Proclamation, President Obama highlighted some of the initiatives that the US government was taking to bring rights to those with autism and to bring awareness to the disorder. He highlighted things like The Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition such as autism. He also pointed out the recent Autism CARES Act of 2014, which provides higher level training for those serving citizens on the autism spectrum.[9]

See also[edit]