A phrase from the book of Genesis and a dash of color and voila –
Let there be BLUE light!
Empire State Building. New York City, New York. USA
Cristo Redentor. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Burj Al Arab. Dubai, UAE.
The Great Buddha of Hyogo. Kobe, Japan.
Niagara Falls. Canada-U.S. border.
Sydney Opera House. Sydney, Australia.
Light It Up Blue is a global campaign started by Autism Speaks in 2010. Since then, it has become a central part of the celebration of World Autism Awareness Day.
World Autism Awareness Day is a United Nations-endorsed campaign that invites all UN organizations, member states, NGOs, and all private and public organizations to participate in promoting awareness of autism. This is me, a private individual and father of a beautiful 7-year old girl with autism, responding to the invitation.
A Spoonful of Awareness
In my experience, autism is arguably one of the most misunderstood developmental disorders in society today . In a nutshell, autism is:
- A spectrum. It is a group of complex disorders that affect brain development. This means the disorder can manifest in a variety of forms at varying degrees from person to person. The important thing to remember is one person with autism can be very different from another. One person, for example, may be too sensitive to touch that he/she doesn’t like to be hugged, while another may have a weak sense of touch that he/she hugs too tight.
- Not an illness. Although a person with autism may undergo therapy, take medication and receive other forms of treatment, he/she is not sick. The therapies and treatments are usually to monitor and aid in brain development.
Autism may be on the rise, but so is autism awareness!
There’s a lot of news going on that in the United States alone, the rate of autism has jumped to as high as 30% in the last two years. This means that one in every 68 children in the U.S. today may be in the autism spectrum. This makes raising awareness about how to detect autism and how to deal with the realities that come with it very important. The good news is we live in a spectacularly caring world.
Best Buddies International, a U.S.-based volunteer group dedicated to creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, has begun working on expanding their network of volunteers to 100 countries (including the Philippines) aiming to impact the lives of three million people with developmental disorders world wide.
More and more companies are looking into the advantages of employing people with autism. SAP, a German software company, and Unilab are among those that have started looking into the practical, not just the sentimental, value of having people in the spectrum in their workforce.
How To Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day
It’s all about raising awareness. If you want to be part of the celebration, here’s are some things you can do:
- Promote autism awareness through your social network. You can use the hash tags #aka (autism kindness act) or #liub (light it up blue) to help put autism awareness on the top trends list. One sentence on your Facebook wall promoting awareness will go a long way!
Write a short blog article about autism awareness.
If you know someone who’s on the autism spectrum, go say hi.
People with autism are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met. I see joy in its purest form whenever I see them smile. Happy World Autism Awareness Day!