Why we need World Autism Awareness Day

Posted 3 weeks ago by Georgie Waters
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World Autism Awareness Day aims to reduce misconceptions about living with autism spectrum disorder and increase awareness about associated challenges. [Source: Shutterstock]
World Autism Awareness Day aims to reduce misconceptions about living with autism spectrum disorder and increase awareness about associated challenges. [Source: Shutterstock]

Autism spectrum disorder is a disability that affects a number of Australians

Key points

  • World Autism Awareness Day is held annually, with this year’s observation being held on April 2, 2024
  • More than 205,000 Australian adults and children are reported to be living with autism spectrum disorder
  • Raising awareness of autism spectrum disorder is important for the world to become more inclusive and understanding of people living on the spectrum

With World Autism Awareness Day being observed on April 2, 2024, the importance of understanding what life is like on the autism spectrum is key. This day is used to spread awareness of autism spectrum disorder and how this disability can affect people’s lives. 

Currently, around one out of every 100 children in Australia are estimated to be living with autism spectrum disorder and a total of more than 205,000 Australian adults and children live with ASD.

The United Nations General Assembly established World Autism Awareness Day in 2007 and designated the day for observance to be held annually on April 2. The reasoning for having an international day specific to the awareness of autism spectrum disorder is to ‘affirm and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for autistic people on an equal basis with others.’

Common difficulties for people with ASD fall into three main categories, namely:

  • social interactions;
  • verbal and nonverbal communication;
  • repetitive or ritualistic behaviours.

Autism spectrum disorder is listed as a disability on the Australian Government’s Guide to the List of Recognised Disabilities. The diagnostic process must be conducted by either a psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician or registered psychologist who uses set criteria for ASD.

As people with autism spectrum disorder can be affected by the disability in numerous ways, World Autism Awareness Day aims to increase the understanding that everyone with the condition presents with different symptoms. 

Each person with autism spectrum disorder is unique, so everyone will have different experiences of living with the condition. However, as with many conditions, society has created myths about autism spectrum disorder. In our article, Autism myths and misconceptions, we debunk some of the most common myths associated with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder, along with other conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is classified under the same umbrella of neurodiversity. 

Neurodiversity is a term used to identify the difference in thinking processes in people with conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and highlight the value and importance of individuality. 

While people with autism spectrum disorder may experience difficulty with communication and be dependent on others for their care, societal factors can negatively impact people living with autism spectrum disorder, even if they are capable of living independently. 

One reason for World Autism Awareness Day is to highlight how some societal norms such as sudden changes in plans and ambiguous communication can inadvertently cause people with autism spectrum disorder to be socially excluded. 

Many workplaces are now creating more accessible environments for people with autism spectrum disorder. To read more about the importance of inclusive workplaces, head over to this article on the Talking Disability website.

In addition to more inclusive workplaces, researchers are discovering ways to make certain eye testing procedures more accessible to people living with disability.

Researchers suggest that possibly up to 35 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder may have limited verbal communication ability. 

With a greater understanding that people with autism spectrum disorder present differently, researchers are developing new tests to help make testing for autism spectrum disorder more accessible and reliable. 

One newly developed eye reflex test does not require a verbal response from the child, meaning that many children could be assessed using this method, regardless of their communication ability.

 

Do you know someone living with autism spectrum disorder? How would greater societal awareness of this disorder make their life easier?

Let the team at Talking Disability know on social media. 

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Relevant content:

How to be a better teacher for students living with disability

Is autism spectrum disorder a disability in Australia?

Autism spectrum disorder: diagnosing with an eye test