NEW YORK, NY (March 31, 2017) – To increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, thousands of landmarks, homes and businesses in more than 150 countries will be lit in blue beginning Sunday, April 2, marking the start of World Autism Month and Autism Speaks’ month-long Light It Up Blue campaign. Iconic landmarks will participate, including the Empire State Building in the United States, Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, Macau Tower in China and Niagara Falls in Canada, – among many others.
World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to focus on autism as a global health issue and to support, empower and enhance the well-being of people on the autism spectrum and their families across the world. Each year, the international community comes together on this day and over the month of April in a show of support for the estimated 70 million people around the world who are affected by autism spectrum disorders.
This year, Autism Speaks will kick-off World Autism Month with a high-level event on Friday, 31 March, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in honor of the Ninth Annual World Autism Awareness Day. Dignitaries from around the world will mark the occasion, hosted by Autism Speaks, the State of Qatar, and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
On April 2, families, communities and entire cities will celebrate the start of World Autism Month by joining autism organizations and advocacy groups in marches, walks and Light It Up Blue events. Countries all around the world, including Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, El Salvador, Japan, Benin, Algeria and Kazakhstan will be joining this year’s celebration. In addition to the thousands of buildings, schools, places of worship and some of the world’s tallest buildings that will be lighting it up blue, ancient monuments will shine blue in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan and Egypt.
Already, more than 30,000 people have already tested their understanding of people with autism by taking the new online Light It Up Blue Quiz. With its focus on everyday situations, the quiz is meant to increase understanding of the disorder that affects people worldwide and impacts each person differently, to varying degrees. They might have unique strengths and abilities that help them excel in school or the workplace, but they might also have challenges with social interaction, highly restricted interests and, in some cases, repetitive behaviors or sensory sensitivities.
Those sensitivities to sound, light or crowded spaces, for example, can make routine outings difficult for children and adults with autism. So Autism Speaks is organizing and promoting autism-friendly events and activities. Throughout April, many shopping malls, restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues across the United States will make their spaces more welcoming with autism-friendly events and activities. That might mean lowering the volume of music, dimming the