World Autism Day - and how can you get involved with spreading awareness from home

Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 2:32 pm
World Autism Day is celebrated every year on 2 April to raise awareness about people with autistic spectrum disorders throughout the world (Photo: Shutterstock)
World Autism Day is celebrated every year on 2 April to raise awareness about people with autistic spectrum disorders throughout the world (Photo: Shutterstock)

World Autism Day is celebrated every year on 2 April to raise awareness about people with autistic spectrum disorders throughout the world.

Here’s what you need to know about it and how to get involved.

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What is World Autism Day?

Every year since 2008, United Nations member states have been encouraged to observe World Autism Awareness Day in order to raise awareness of autism and aspergers syndrome around the world.

Buildings, homes and communities come together on April 2 in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them.

Autism-friendly events and educational activities usually take place all month, as part of World Autism Awareness Month, which takes place throughout April.

These aim to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, alongside encouraging worldwide support and a kinder, more inclusive world.

What is autism?

The National Autistic Society explains that, “Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

“Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways.

“Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop.”

What is this year’s theme?

This year’s World Autism Awareness Day 2020 theme is 'The Transition to Adulthood'.

The transition to adulthood is an important challenge for those with autism, and this theme therefore draws attention to the adulthood stage of people with autism.

Issues include the importance of participation in cultural youth events, community, decision making, education, and how those with autism should have access to post-secondary education and employment, alongside being able to live independently.

World Autism Awareness Week 2020

World Autism Awareness Week, which is organised by the National Autistic Society, runs from Monday 30 March to Sunday 5 April 2020.

The National Autistic Society explains that, “In the week of 30 March - 5 April we encourage the public to take part in World Autism Awareness Week – a full seven days where people across the UK take part in activities to raise money and awareness for the National Autistic Society.”

Although the UK is currently under lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the charity explains that there are still a variety of ways you can “spread awareness, and get advice and support from our charity during this difficult time”.

The organisation adds: “We need your help now more than ever to continue to provide support to autistic people and their families, who fear change and feel isolated more than most under normal circumstances.

“If you are in a position to do so, we’ve made it easy for you to do fundraising activities during the week from the safety of your home.”

7 ways you can still get involved from home, according to Autism.org.uk:

- Read our tips on dealing with the impact of coronavirus-Share our What is Autism? Film-Follow our social media channels and share our video about the top 5 things autistic people want you to know-Join the hundreds of people still doing a 7k for 700k challenge – design an active challenge to fit your ability and your home or outdoor space-Set up a simple Facebook fundraiser and ask friends and family to donate – just go to this page, type in the amount you’d like to raise by when, explain to your network why you’re raising money and upload a photo – and you are set to go!-Host a gaming streamathon or virtual board games night - use our resources on gaming if you need tips on getting started-Download our workplace pack and use our Spectrum Quiz by Anne Hegerty to host a ‘virtual’ pub quiz fundraiser (using a platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams) – just ask people to donate a few pounds to take part

Daisy & Ollie special episode

Since the kids are off school for Autism Awareness Day this year, they can watch hit cartoon Daisy & Ollie’s special episode, created to help children understand autism.

‘Daisy & Ollie: How do I make friends with Theo?’ features a new autistic character called Theo and his parents, voiced by National Autistic Society ambassadors Christine and Paddy McGuinness.

In the episode, Daisy’s Uncle Tommy (Paddy McGuinness) brings his son Theo to an Autism Hour at the aquarium for a fun day out with Daisy, Ollie and Daisy’s Daddy, who is voiced by comedian Jason Manford.

You can watch the episode on the My5 catch up service.