Kathy is a freelance writer and mom of two teenagers. Her son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.
When Is World Autism Awareness Day?
World Autism Awareness Day is held annually on April 2nd. In November 2007, the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution to declare April 2nd as an internationally recognized World Autism Awareness Day, in perpetuity, to "highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults with autism who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives."
There are many things we can all do to help increase awareness and understanding of autism, and improve the lives of those affected by autism.
Here are 10 ways to get involved.
What You Can Do to Support World Autism Awareness Day
1. Educate Yourself About Autism
- Read books, magazine articles and blog posts about autism.
- Talk to parents of children with autism to find out what their life is really like.
- Attend an information session or seminar on autism.
- Visit the websites of local or national autism organizations.
2. Help Others Understand Autism
- If you are the parent of a child with autism, or have personal experience working with individuals with autism, teach others what you have learned.
- Do presentations to local community groups or service clubs.
- Arrange to visit local schools to help students and teachers understand more about children with autism, and how they can be more inclusive.
- Share information and resources from reputable sources.
3. Share Your Autism Story
- Write a letter to the editor of your local or a national newspaper.
- Share your personal autism stories on your blog or Facebook page.
- Offer to do a guest post on a parenting website or blog.
- Submit an article to be shared on an autism blog or website.
4. Donate to an Autism Organization
- Make a financial donation to a local, national or international autism charitable organization.
- Contact a local organization that supports children, youth or adults with autism and find out if there are any supplies that are needed, such as books, craft supplies or games.
- Sponsor someone that is participating in an autism walk or other fundraising event.
- Donate an item or service to be used as a prize or auction item for an upcoming fundraiser.
5. Attend an Autism Awareness Event or Autism Fundraiser
Many organizations and charities hold awareness events or fundraisers to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day. For example:
- Autism Ontario is also coordinating Raise the Flag for Autism ceremonies in municipalities across Ontario to "raise awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and encourage support and inclusiveness for individuals with an ASD.
Even better: help organize an event in your community!
6. Purchase Autism Awareness Merchandise
Make a fashion statement and help spread autism awareness at the same time. From jewelry to t-shirts and pins to iPhone skins, you're sure to find something you like. Here are a few options: You can find autism awareness t-shirts , hats, buttons, cell phone cases, water bottles and more on sites like Zazzle and Cafepress. If you can't find anything you like, you can even design your own items.
- You can find autism awareness t-shirts , hats, buttons, cell phone cases, water bottles and more on sites like eBay, Zazzle and Cafepress. If you can't find anything you like, you can even design your own items.
- I Candy Crystal's exclusive line of handmade autism awareness jewelry is created by a mom of a child with autism. Choose from a wide variety of beautiful and unique bracelets, necklaces, keychains, rings and more.
- Etsy is also a great site to find unique autism awareness items.
7. Advocate for Change
- Learn about issues that affect individuals with autism and their families in your area, nationally or in other countries.
- Write letters to policy makers, government agencies or school boards to advocate for services and resources.
- Sign a petition.
- Have a meeting with your local elected official.
8. Light It Up Blue
- Autism Speaks' Light It Up Blue initiative to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day encourages businesses, individuals and world landmarks to "shine a light on autism" with blue lights on April 2nd.
- Watch the video below to see some of the many landmarks that helped to light it up blue in 2012, and help spread the word to your friends and family.
Light It Up Blue to Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day
9. Share Information on Social Media
- Follow autism organizations on Facebook or Twitter, and help spread awareness by retweeting or sharing their messages.
- Share information with your followers about upcoming events and fundraisers.
- Start a Google hangout or Facebook group to help connect parents or individuals affected by autism and provide support and resources.
- Share autism resources, facts and personal insights via your favourite social media channels.
10. Volunteer Your Time
- Contact local autism organizations to find out what types of volunteer opportunities are available. Offer to help with public awareness activities, event planning, media, fundraising, newsletters or whatever else you are interested in.
- Offer to spend some time with a child with autism to help give their family a break.
- Volunteer in a local school with children or teens with autism.
We Can Make a Difference Together
As former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has stated, "Autism is not limited to a single region or a country; it is a worldwide challenge that requires global action."
I encourage everyone to take some action, however small it may be, in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day this year. By doing so, we can all help improve the lives of individuals affected by autism, now and for the future.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Kathy Sima
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 01, 2015:
Thanks for the information about how to support this wonderful cause.
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on March 04, 2013:
Great suggestion, Katherine. I've heard about those cards, but never used them personally - though I definitely could have used one many times, when comments from strangers had me tongue-tied!
Katherine Sanger from Texas on March 01, 2013:
I also have little cards - like business cards - that explain what autism is. I always carry them with me and give them out because my son is 10 and autistic, and sometimes it's the easiest and fastest way to educate someone. I have found the cards very helpful, especially when someone I met had questions about what it was, and I could just whip out the card.
Kathy Sima (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 27, 2013:
Thanks Stephanie and Bill! I appreciate the visit and the feedback.
Bill - with a 12 year old son with autism, promoting autism awareness is just a way of life now. I do it for him, and all of the families who face challenges every day.
stephanieb27 from United States on February 26, 2013:
Great suggestions! :)
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 26, 2013:
Bravo! Thank you for raising awareness about this important issue.