World Autism Awareness Day is April 2
World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is recognized by the United Nations and takes place on April 2. It was adopted by the UN on December 18, 2007, as a way to raise awareness and support research to find ways of improving inclusion and wellness for people with autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is the term now used instead of autism. It is characterized by communication, behavioral, and social challenges. The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that “a diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome.”
Problem-solving, learning, and thinking abilities of people with ASD range from challenged to gifted and some people need more help than others in their daily lives. Around one in 44 children have ASD and it is four times more likely among boys than girls.
Inequalities in education
According to the Calgary Herald, “there is an increased rate of average to above-average intelligence among individuals with ASD.” Yet many students with ASD struggle with education inequality. Progress has been made towards increasing access to education in the past decade in general and for people with ASD, but this progress has been impacted by COVID-19 and mitigation measures.
According to the UN, more than 90% of students around the globe were impacted by the temporary closure of schools and “the disruption in learning caused by the pandemic has reversed years of progress and has exacerbated inequalities in education.” Students with autism have “been disproportionately affected by disruptions to routines, as well as services and supports that they rely on.”
World Autism Awareness Day 2022 - Quality Education
In 2015, world leaders adopted 17 sustainable development goals at the UN and these goals address global challenges, including inequality. This year’s World Autism Awareness Day will address inclusive education in the context of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) – Quality Education. The focus of SDG 4 is equitable, inclusive, quality education and lifelong learning for all as the foundation for reducing inequality and improving lives.
The April 2, 2022, observance of World Autism Awareness Day will include a panel discussion and short presentations by experts such as educators and self-advocates. The inclusive education theme is linked to last year’s theme of “Inclusion in the Workplace.” Last year’s panelists emphasized the importance of inclusive, quality education for success in the labor market and fulfillment of potential for people on the autism spectrum. The UN stresses that “inclusive education is the key to the transformative promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, to LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND.”
You can participate in the virtual event on Friday, April 8, 2022, at 10:00-11:15 a.m. EST here: https://www.un.org/en/observances/autism-day