Mariella Velazquez plays with her daughter Elisa Medina, 11, who has autism, jump under the rain in El Monte, California. (AP)
Mariella Velazquez plays with her daughter Elisa Medina, 11, who has autism, jump under the rain in El Monte, California. (AP)

World Autism Awareness Day 2021: Theme, significance of the day

  • The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day from 2008 after the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into force.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
UPDATED ON APR 02, 2021 01:49 PM IST

World Autism Awareness Day is observed every year on April 2 with the aim to spread awareness about autism and make people understand the challenges faced by those with the developmental disorder. The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day from 2008 after the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into force. The UN Department of Global Communications and UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the Specialisterne Foundation, will organise a virtual event to commemorate the day which will include moderated panel discussions with individuals on the autism spectrum who have themselves experienced the challenges, according to the United Nations (UN) website.

“Persons with autism have long faced many of these inequalities, which have only been further exacerbated by the pandemic. It’s a problem made worse by long recognized discriminatory hiring practices and workplace environments that present major obstacles for persons with autism; all of which contribute to the unemployment or severe underemployment of a large majority of adults on the autism spectrum,” the UN said.

Autism, which is also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complicated condition used to describe a group of neurodevelopmental disorders which are related to communication, social interaction, restricted, repetitive and stereotyped interests or patterns of behaviour.

According to the 2011 Census of India, there are 7,862,921 children with disabilities below the 19 year age group in the country, among which 595,089 have an intellectual disability. According to a study done by INCLEN Trust International in 2018, about 1 in 100 children in India under age 10 have autism, and nearly 1 in 8 has at least one neurodevelopmental condition.

Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan tweeted on World Autism Day and called for a “conducive space” for those with autism. “Interventions for people dealing with Autism need to be accompanied by broader actions. Let's do our bit to build an inclusive and supportive society by creating a conducive space for them,” he posted.

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