April is Autism Awareness Month, and this year, the United Nations hosted its 10th annual World Autism Awareness Day observance. The day was adopted in December 2008, and the first UN observance was in April 2009.
It was a morning full of passionate and powerful words from leaders looking to raise public awareness about the developmental disorder, but more importantly, create a call to action and change.
Here are 5 things I learned from the speakers at the event:
1. Girls and Women with Autism Face Unique Challenges
The theme of this year’s event was “Empowering Women and Girls with Autism.” While some research estimates that boys are diagnosed with autism at a generally higher rate, girls and women make up a large population of those affected by the condition. Similar to the challenges that typical girls and women face– barriers to education and health care services, equal pay and employment, physical and psychological violence–these same problems exist for girls and women with autism, and they’re more pronounced.
2. Representation Is Important
You may be familiar with shows like ABC’s The Good Doctor or Netflix’s original series Atypical. Dakota Fanning was present at the UN to discuss her role as a woman with autism in the film Please Stand By. While these productions show that Hollywood is beginning to feature more inclusive storylines, and even actors with autism, this is the start of a necessary step in the right direction. To quote Morenike Giwa-Onaiwu, “Autism is another form of diversity of the human experience.” Because ideas and stories have real world consequences, it is crucial to have autism portrayed accurately and thoughtfully in media and literature.
3. Being Diagnosed with Autism Is Not a Bad Thing
While living with autism can be perceived as a negative thing, many of the speakers at today’s event shared stories about how their diagnosis was a tool for empowerment. And we can learn a lot from those on the spectrum! Those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often associated with being intelligent, having artistic talents and loving unconditionally. While being different can be difficult, those who are deserve to appreciate the things that make them special.
4. More Research Needs to Be Done
While data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 1 in 68 kids in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of autism, it is likely that the number is even greater than the available research suggests. One government survey of parents indicates that 1 in 45 children ages 3-17 have been diagnosed.
5. Concrete Action Requires Everyone’s Effort
Even if you aren’t affected by this disability, you can make some lasting change toward bettering the lives of those with autism. Helpful change includes shifting how our government designs policies and programs to revise systemic inequalities and improve support for those on the spectrum.
Equal pay and health care services have already been achieved for women in the U.S
Thank you so much for putting autism awarreness into your news. I have an autistic brother and I appreciate the autism awarreness day article very much.
what about the challenges boys with autism face
Learned from World Autism
I really enjoy watching channel one news with my students. It is a joy to see young millennials heading a news show and doing such a great job!! All of the segments are always very informative. Way to go channel one news team!!