April 2nd marks the fifth annual World Autism Awareness Day, recognizing the millions of people worldwide that are affected by the disorder.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says this day looks to eliminate the discrimination many with autism spectrum disorder face daily.
"Autism is not limited to a single region or a country; it is a worldwide challenge that requires global action," Ki-moon said in a written statement. He also called for larger political commitment and that social, labor, and education sectors discuss the "unique needs of people with autism and cultivate their talents."
A recent survey found that 63% of U.S. young people with autism had been bullied.
"Let us all continue to join hands to enable people with autism and other neurological differences to realize their potential and enjoy the opportunities and well-being that are their birthright," the Secretary-General stated.
Unless you've been living under a rock, odds are you probably know someone diagnosed with autism. Currently, 1 in 88 American children have the disorder.
Below are some common myths about people with autism.
- People with autism don’t want friends. If someone in your class has autism, they might have difficulty in social situations and could come off as unfriendly. However this is because they can’t communicate the desire for relationships the same as you.
- People with autism are intellectually disabled. Many teens with autism have exceptional abilities, for example: many have normal to high IQs and some may excel at math, music, or another pursuit.
- People with autism all have the same characteristics. Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning it varies from person to person. The capabilities and limitations of one are no indication of that of another person with autism.
Check out this video of Jacob Barnett, a teen diagnosed with autism who didn’t let that stop him from learning astrophysics.
What can you do?