Twenty autism charities are uniting on World Autism Awareness Day (2 April 2009) to call on people across the UK to Stand Up for Autism.
Celebrities including Jane Asher, Eamonn Holmes, Ruth Langsford, Michelle Collins, DJ Judge Jules and Brit award-winning band Elbow, are amongst those who have already pledged their support.
Stand up for Autism is a theme chosen to highlight how many people are personally affected by autism and how important it is that we stand up and speak out in order to gain the right level of help, support and understanding. All too often autism is not properly understood as a distinct condition and the needs of people affected by autism are not recognized.
Awareness of autism, and the challenges it poses to the millions worldwide who are affected by the condition, is now reaching the highest level; US president Barack Obama pledged to increase funding for research and support services for people with autism, and it is the only condition specifically mentioned on his 24 point health agenda.
In the UK, charities and people affected by autism are urging the Government to recognize autism spectrum disorders as distinct from other conditions, deserving urgent strategic planning, policy development and dedicated resource allocation. Research suggests that autism is costing the UK £27.5 billion pounds a year - a cost which could be vastly reduced if the right support was put in place. A significant proportion of this is the result of lost earnings by adults with autism, so it is not just an issue of cost but of missed opportunity.
Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, speaking on behalf of all the autism charities, comments "One in a hundred people in the UK have autism, yet the services and support available to them and their carers are woefully inadequate. While some people with autism may need a lifetime of specialist support, others, given the opportunity, would be able to live relatively independent lives. It is vital that we all stand up for autism in order to gain the support and understanding which people with autism should be entitled to by right."
For more information about the events taking place for World Autism Awareness Day 2009, and more details about what we are asking from Government, visit www.waad.org.uk or look out for activity on You Tube, Facebook and Twitter.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colors.
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
World Autism Awareness Day
In December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, World Autism Awareness Day aims to give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help.
We want everyone to stand up for autism and help ensure that:
people with autism are not unfairly discriminated against and their rights as people with disabilities as well as citizens are promoted
the numbers with autism are known and inform the provision of services and support
adequate research funds are made available to enable understanding of autism and develop appropriate interventions and support
that those providing services and support across public services have adequate understanding of autism
that resources are made available to support those living with autism
that public awareness of autism is raised to help remove social barriers for those living with autism