World Autism Awareness Day 2023: what is happening and how to get involved

Christine McGuinness rcently spoke about her autism diagnosis (PA Archive)
Christine McGuinness rcently spoke about her autism diagnosis (PA Archive)

A global day of awareness will take place this weekend about autism on April 2. The condition is thought to affect more than one in every 100 people.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. Autism charities say that more than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are about 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

What are the signs of autism?

Autism comes in very different forms, and is called a “spectrum” because it affects autistic people differently. People with autism may struggle in social situations, display repetitive behaviours, suffer from extreme anxiety, be over or undersensitive to noises and lights, and may get highly focused on activities they enjoy. The NHS has an autism guide for people who would like to know more.

What is World Autism Awareness Day?

This year the event is taking place on April 2 and it always coincides with World Autism Month in April. This year is the 16th annual World Autism Awareness Day.

What is this year’s theme?

The National Autistic Society has labelled this year’s theme as being about colours, as it believes people should be proud of their differences and not shy away from an autism diagnosis.

The charity is hosting an awareness month where it shares stories and provides opportunities to “increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support”.

What events are taking place?

This year a Spectrum Colour Challenge has been laid down by the UK’s Nation Autistic Society. This can be anything colour related and participants are asked to set up their own Just Giving site to raise cash for the cause. Participants wanting to take part can get ideas from the site, then will receive a fundraising pack and even a medal when their challenge is done.

US charity Autism Speaks invites the public to pledge their support, donate and upload photos to become part of a worldwide mosaic of unity and collaboration. It asks for people to share stories of people on the spectrum or tell their own by submitting them to their social media pages.

it also highlights the Light It Up Blue campaign, which encourages people to use blue lights at landmarks, homes and businesses on April 2 in recognition of people with autism and their families and carers.

Who are some famous people who have autism?

Christine McGuinness has spoken out about her recent autism diagnosis, and now more celebrities are publicly acknowledging that they have the condition. Albert Einstein famously had autism and others to come forward more recently include Greta Thunberg, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Eminem and MMA fighter Alex Reid.