Not only are green shoots bursting out this April, blue is too! That wonderful color of a clear cloudless day is also the color of the best kind of friendship: the kind that’s about looking out for you in good times and bad, smiles and tears, new adventures and facing down fears.
That’s why blue is the color of World Autism Month: this is about letting everyone know that we care about our friends who live within the spectrum of autism diagnoses. This is a time where awareness can bring about greater engagement by all members of the community. This April, these five organizations are putting on the blue and letting you know it’s time to celebrate Friendship!
Founded in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, Autism Speaks has emerged as a potent force in advancing awareness of issues in the wider community of people who live within the autism spectrum and early diagnosis and treatment.
To kick off World Autism Month, April 2 was designated by the United Nations as World Autism Awareness Day. To celebrate the whole world over, Autism Speaks started the Light It Up Blue campaign where iconic landmarks are illuminated by blue light. The White House, Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building—even the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro! —have been bathed in blue! You can light up your home with a specially-developed blue light filter, or nominate a local landmark or workspace to be lit up!
With #LightItUpBlue trending on social media, feel free to tag a selfie wearing blue. You can alter your Facebook and Twitter profile pics with a “#LightItUpBlue” frame.
The Autism Speaks site also features a calendar of events occurring across the US. Check the listings to see what’s happening in your part of the country.
Color of Autism Foundation
Autism knows no color, race, or geo-political boundary. Often, African-American families and families of color must endure obstacles such as misdiagnosis and entrenched indifference in navigating care for their ASD children. The Color of Autism Foundation, formed in 2009, was created to address and surmount the disparities in education and care for African-American families and their children on the spectrum.
This April 22, the foundation is hosting “It Takes a Village: ‘Where the Atypical and Typical Meet,” in Detroit, Michigan. It’s an event packed with guest speakers and resources meant to provide information for ADS individuals and caregivers.
Sesame Street and Autism
For nearly 50 years, Sesame Street has been at the forefront of educating young children in more than just their ABCs and 123s—helping little children navigate growing up. This year Sesame Street introduced a new friend: Julia, an intelligent, vivacious little girl who has autism.
As part of Julia’s introduction, Sesame Workshop, the producers of Sesame Street, teamed up with parents, professionals and people living with autism to develop the website, “See Amazing in All Children.” The site is loaded with videos for kids and parents, daily routine cards, games, offering “families ways to manage common challenges, to simplify everyday activities, and to grow connections and support from family, friends, and community.” You can even find a storybook featuring Julia with Sesame Street mainstays Abby and Elmo!
With greater visibility, more films on autism or featuring ADS characters are being made. This April marks the premier of the “Autfest Film Festival: From Spectrum to Screen,” in Orange County, California. This film festival celebrates “the role film is now playing in autism awareness.” A partnership between the Autism Society and AMC Orange 30 movie theater, the festival will feature honorees Ben Affleck, star of “The Accountant,” and Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera, the directors of the animated film “Inside/Out,” and those films (“Inside/Out” will be presented in a sensory-friendly version). Other independent and international films, as well as documentaries—including the acclaimed, Oscar®-nominated “Life, Animated”—will also be shown.
The film festival is scheduled for April 22-24.
Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)
Created by two mothers and their pediatrician in 1997, the Phoenix-based Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center has dedicated itself to providing support and resources for parents, as well as research into the causes of ASD. SAARC has packed this April with a wealth of opportunities to give and to learn!
Early in the month, SARRC is hosting Milestone Classes for Parents and Infant. These are classes for first time parents with a just-diagnosed infant, or an infant with an ASD older sibling, to better “connect you with helpful information to make the first year and a half of your infant’s life a supported experience.”
April 28, SARRC is holding its Annual Community Breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore. This year marks the 20th anniversary of SARRC’s founding and its service to the community. Nearly 2,000 guests will be in attendance. Proceeds will go to support the research, programs and services that have been at the heart of SARRC’s mission.
There’s a blue-sky’s worth of events celebrating World Autism Month! Be sure you’re a part of it!