UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a message on Sunday, calling for increased efforts to advance the rights of individuals with autism, in honor of World Autism Awareness Day, which falls on April 2 annually.
“Despite important progress, persons with autism continue to face social and environmental barriers to the full exercise of their rights and fundamental freedoms, in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said the top UN official.
“We must do better, by promoting inclusive education, equal employment opportunities, self-determination, and an environment where every person is respected,” he said. “As we do so, we also recognize the role of families, caregivers, and support networks in the lives of persons with autism.”
Stressing the importance of recognizing the active and diverse contributions of people with autism to society, Guterres said, “let us work together with persons with autism to build an inclusive and accessible world for all.”
World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day, aimed at raising awareness about autism and promoting inclusion and acceptance of people with autism. The day was first observed in 2008 after a UN resolution was passed on Dec. 18, 2007, declaring April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day.
The observance of the day is to increase public knowledge and understanding of autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It also aims to promote early diagnosis, early intervention, and support for individuals with autism and their families.
According to the World Health Organization, about one in 100 children has autism. Characteristics may be detected in early childhood, but autism is often not diagnosed until much later. The abilities and needs of autistic people vary and can evolve over time. While some people with autism can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support. ■