April is Autism Awareness Month, with World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), commemorated on April 2 each year. As the world continues to be roused by the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Secretary General António Guterres was keen to note on World Autism Awareness Day 2021: “We must ensure that prolonged disruption is not caused by COVID-19 leads to backlogs of rights for people with autism. ”
According to the United Nations, “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened apparent inequalities around the world, particularly in terms of income and wealth distribution, access to healthcare, protection under the law, and political inclusion. People with autism have long faced many of these inequalities, further exacerbated by the pandemic. It is a problem exacerbated by recognized discriminatory hiring practices and workplace environments that present major barriers for people with autism; all contribute to the serious unemployment or underemployment of the vast majority of adults on the autism spectrum ”.
Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is characterized by challenges with social and communication skills, and by repetitive behavior, so many living with ASD find it difficult to find and retain employment if they they find a job.
The theme of World Autism Awareness Day 2021, “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World”, highlights this issue.
This year, the major global event is the virtual forum on Thursday, April 8 “which will include moderated panel discussions with individuals on the autism spectrum who themselves have experienced the challenges and have seen… new opportunities in the employment market ”, say the organizers.
Around the world, every year on World Autism Awareness Day, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities are lit up with pale blue lights to recognize people living with autism. This symbolic gesture was intended to unite the world to shed light on autism and increase understanding and acceptance for children, individuals and families worldwide. What’s more, World Autism Awareness Day goes one step further to celebrate the unique talents of those with autism, while placing a huge focus on the warm embrace and welcome that these skills deserve through community events around the world. World Autism Awareness Day can trace its roots back to November 1, 2007, when the United Nations first asked for a day to be established as World Autism Day. A resolution to this effect was passed on December 18, 2007, and Autism Awareness Month grew out of World Autism Awareness Day. So there has been a lot of progress in raising awareness and improving lives in the 14 years since. As more people become aware of autism, more parents are reaching for answers. Increased awareness leads to more information and greater visibility. More people who don’t live with autism are learning to accept and respect, people who are.
But World Autism Awareness Day also highlights the barriers that people with autism – and others living with autism – face every day, and these have not become less challenging. Although it is a growing global health issue, autism is an issue that is only gaining more understanding because of its increased press exposure, there are more challenges, such as COVID-19, growing up.
As the name reflects, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder vary greatly in the level and type of impairment. Current statistics suggest that around 1 in 88 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high, and the lack of understanding is having a huge impact on the individuals, their families, and their communities. Furthermore, stigmatization and discrimination associated with neurological differences remain significant barriers to diagnosis and therapy, an issue that public policy makers must address in developing countries, as well as donor countries.
While many local companies already doing autism are causing part of their corporate responsibility, many have not yet jumped on board. Consider doing that, and doing more, autism is real; it affects us all. Those affected by autism need not only our understanding but our support. More importantly, those on the spectrum deserve our understanding and support.

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