Tomorrow begins our month-long celebration of Autism Awareness. For the past seven years, we have worn the color blue on April 2nd in honor and recognition of April’s Autism month. Many people have asked me the question: “Why do we wear blue on April 2nd?” My response is often, “Well, why do we wear a specific color in recognition of any month?” After all, a color cannot fund autism programs, secure jobs, or provide respite to families. But wearing blue unites us in a common cause; allows us to realize that there are thousands of people who not only know of the cause but also support it; and encourages us to advocate and remain strong in our convictions that children and adults with autism have the right to develop to be the best that they can possibly be.
Since 2007, April 2nd has been internationally recognized as World Autism Awareness Day. To me, that is amazing because every single country in the world had to sign on and agree to this proclamation – no small feat! The Light It Up Blue campaign was born two years later, and serves as an impetus to all communities to recognize and support children and adults with autism spectrum disorder.
Today, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability. In the 1980s, autism prevalence was reported as 1 in 10,000. In the nineties, the rate was 1 in 2500 and later 1 in 1000. Today, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. That works out to about 1 person every 20 minutes!
With these numbers, it’s not surprising that nearly everyone has a person with autism in their lives, be it a sibling, relative, neighbor or co-worker. So again, why do we wear blue? To promote acceptance. Together we can make a difference in the lives of people with autism by accepting their many gifts and recognizing the challenges they can face.
Not just on April 2nd, but every other day of the year, we should strive to make the world a more understanding place. So let’s Light It Up Blue this weekend! Sign the pledge below, and be sure to share your photos!