Autism Speaks, the biggest autism science and advocacy organization in the world, marks its sixth annual celebration of World Autism Awareness Day today, April 2. This is a worldwide effort to raise awareness about a disorder which affects millions of individuals and families with a series of events and initiatives. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community as National Autism Awareness Month.
According to the Autism Society, “Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.” A recent government survey of parents says 1 in 50 U.S. schoolchildren has autism, surpassing another federal estimate for the disorder. The numbers are higher in New Jersey, with 1 in 49 children in New Jersey, according to Autism NJ.org.
Many prominent buildings will highlight the day too, by Lighting up in Blue, including the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall in NYC.
Locally people are raising awareness as well:
- WORDS Bookstore in Maplewood will put on blue lights and wear blue shirts for Autism Awareness. Owners Ellen and Jonah Zimiles will donate a percentage of sales during their Light it up Blue hours to Autism Speaks. Throughout the month of April, they will host authors of books dealing with the subject.
- AMC Theatres offers its Sensory-friendly film screening of The Croods on Saturday, April 6 at 10 am.
- Autism Awareness Day with the Mets takes place on Saturday, April 27.
- Over 420 Build-a-Bear stores are supporting autism awareness with a cuddly blue bear. Build-a-Bear is donating $1 from each blue bear sold plus 50 cents per branded Tiny Tee sold to Autism Speaks. Click here to check out the bear and to find a store near you!
- If you haven’t purchased family musician Brady Rymer’s “Love Me For Who I Am” CD yet, you really should. Here’s a great video telling how the project came to be:
Throughout the month of April, Barista Kids will do our part to raise awareness of autism by featuring stories from people who have loved ones or students on the spectrum. Have a story to share? Email us here.