April 2 marked World Autism Awareness Day, otherwise known as Light it up Blue. This year, the United Nations took the time to acknowledge the unique skills of people with autism by declaring an initiative and inviting businesses to make commitments to employ people on the autism spectrum.
As stated on the United Nations website, “People with autism have enormous potential. Most have remarkable visual, artistic or academic skills. Thanks to the use of assistive technologies, non-verbal persons with autism can communicate and share their hidden capabilities,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement on the Day.
“Yet even where autism awareness is most advanced, more than 80 per cent of adults with autism are unemployed. That is why it is so important for employers to understand their unique and often exceptional skills, and to enable work environments where they can excel,” he added.
The United Nations held a special event honoring World Autism day. At the event, Mr. Ban launched a Call to Action initiative to urge employers to create work zones where people with autism can excel. Many people with autism possess special skills and in the right environment, they can flourish. Unfortunately, there is a lack of vocational training and people with autism are often faced with discrimination in the workplace.
Mr. Ban stated, “We encourage public offices, corporations, and small businesses to have a closer look at the way they perceive people with autism, to take the time to learn about the condition and to create life-changing opportunities.”
One of out 68 American children will be diagnosed with autism. As they grow up, they will need to enter the workforce. The decree by the U.N. highlights this need for vocational training and support. Transitioning from the training will also require a specialized recruitment process that will enable successful integration into the workforce.
According to Autism Speaks, autism is a neurological disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. It is characterized by impairments in social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted, repetitive behavior, interests and activities. Autism presents itself on a spectrum and every person who has autism is affected in different ways.
The campaign to Light it up Blue/World Autism Day started eight years ago to help foster autism awareness. The United Nations is one of many organizations that adopted World Autism Day as a day to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of children and adults, who are affected by autism, so they can lead full and meaningful lives.
In 2007, the U.N. General Assembly called for training for public administrators, service providers, care-givers, families and non-professionals to support the integration of persons with autism into society, so that they can realize their full potential.
Read more about World Autism Day by clicking here.
Watch the United Nations video below and learn more!