Today is World Autism Awareness Day. In 2007, the United Nations general assembly adopted a resolution, which declares that every April 2nd should be dedicated to bringing the world’s attention to a condition affecting tens of millions around the globe.
The National Autistic Society defines the condition as “a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.“
Autism is a so-called spectrum condition, meaning it affects different people in different ways and varies in its severity. Some sufferers are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need lifelong specialist support. People with autism may experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours and often feel isolated and anxious as they struggle to understand the world around them.
Many say they see the world as a mass of people, places and events which they struggle to make sense of, and which can cause them considerable distress. Understanding and relating to other people, and taking part in everyday family and social life are especially difficult to get to grips with. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, and some people with autism may wonder why they are ‘different’.
The exact causes of the condition are still unknown, although a recent study suggests genetics may be to blame, and there is no cure, meaning people suffering from autism have to learn to live with it.
It is estimated that autism affects just over 1% of American children and causes significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Symptoms can begin to appear when babies are as young as 12 months, but often become obvious at around age 2. Diagnosing children as early as possible can lead to early intensive therapy which can sometimes lead to significant improvements in their life.
[adsense]World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on the condition as a growing global health crisis. The activities of those who take part help to increase and develop world knowledge of the disability and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, World Autism Awareness Day celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals suffering from it are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.
By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, the campaign aims to give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help.
Click here to read more about Dan Aykroyd’s battle with Tourettes Syndrome and Aspergers.
Images: Wikimedia Commons and kubina on Flikr