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World Autism Awareness Day 2019: Significance, history and theme

Hindustan Times, Delhi | By
Apr 02, 2019 06:43 PM IST

On 2nd April every year we observe the World Autism Awareness Day to spread information about Autism Spectrum Disorder and help the global ASD population lead a healthy social life.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder of variable severity which causes disruption in communication and social interaction. The disorder is also characterized through repetitive behaviour and thoughts. On 2nd April every year we observe the World Autism Awareness Day to spread information about Autism Spectrum Disorder and help the global ASD population lead a healthy social life. The UN Department Of Global Communication and Department Of Economic and Social Affairs is the main organization responsible for shaping this day. A number of other organisations working for the people with ASD are also associated with WAAD.

According to the World Health Organisation one out of every 160 children is living with autism. However, there is a lack of awareness about this disorder on a whole. People living with ASD are prone to problems relating to communication and social interaction. These issues can be tackled successfully if ASD is detected at a young age and thereof managed-well. Through WAAD, United Nations aims to raise awareness about ASD. It aims to help people detect the signs of autism in children at an early age and to fight the discrimination faced by people on the spectrum.

Significance of World Autism Awareness Day

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sums up the significance of WAAD saying, “On World Autism Awareness Day, we speak out against discrimination, celebrate the diversity of our global community and strengthen our commitment to the full inclusion and participation of people with autism. Supporting them to achieve their full potential is a vital part of our efforts to uphold the core promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to leave no one behind.”

Theme Of World Autism Awareness Day 2019

‘Assistive Technologies. Active Participation’ is the theme for WAAD 2019. The theme is derived keeping in mind that technology plays an integral role in the development of people with any form of disability including autism. Not only is technology important for development, it also ensures that people with disabilities enjoy their basic human rights and helps them tackle any issues they face as a member of the society.

However, this theme also highlights the fact that assistive technologies are expensive and inaccessible to a large population living with autism. There is also a lack of guidance about the usage of assistive technologies and their efficiency throughout the globe.

As a theme of WAAD 2019, the United Nations at its headquarters in New York will discuss the engagement of assistive technologies for people living with autism as a tool to remove any barriers which may hamper their complete participation in the social, political and economic aspects of the society. It will also focus on the use of technology to promote equality, equity and inclusion. Topics to be addressed through discussions with self-advocates and experts at UN today include:

· The Internet and digital communities: Leveling the playing field

· Independent living: Smart home technology and more

· Education and employment: Communication and executive functioning

· Telemedicine: Opening the doors to healthcare

· The right to be heard: Political participation and advocacy

History of World Autism Awareness Day

The United Nations General Assembly announced 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day in 2008. Since then the UN, with a number of other organisations have worked to spread information about Autism Spectrum Disorder which affects a major portion of population across the globe. This day aims at making healthcare and technology more accessible to people living with autism. However, the main aim of celebrating World Autism Awareness Day is to make sure that no one, including people living with autism, are left behind.

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