World Autism Awareness Day: Prevention Over Celebration

The month of April is Autism Awareness month and today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). Adopted by the United Nations in 2007, WAAD is meant to “shine a light on” autism through efforts like Autism Speaks’ Light it Up Blue campaign. Thousands of landmarks, businesses, and people will be united by the color blue.

Although World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month are powered by good intentions, it’s important to remember what Autism really is. According to a Washington Post article written by Kim Stagliano, a mother of three autistic daughters, celebratory campaigns like Light it Up Blue condense the struggle of families living with autism into something too simplistic - something that “implies autism is a party, rather than a crisis.”

In her article, Stagliano discusses her life and the tremendous difficulties of raising three daughters with autism. She also expresses her discontent with Autism Awareness Month and Autism Awareness Day. As many feel, the fleeting thoughts most people give to Autism during these times don’t paint a true picture of the disorder.

For Stagliano, awareness campaigns fail to capture the true depth of challenges autistic children and adults must face, as well as the profound and life-changing experiences of families who must provide them daily living assistance and long-term support. They can also create a tone that detracts from the bleak realities of autism, including the reality that when parents pass, strangers will be tasked with providing this support. For Stagliano and for many others, these campaigns simply fail to make people think in ways that will influence change.

Stagliano states it best when she says awareness campaigns suggest we should celebrate the circumstances autism creates rather than stimulate thought about the somber realities and challenges, and ultimately provoke change. For her, April “should be a month of solemn acknowledgement and education about a global crisis.”

For Braverman Reproductive Immunology, this solemn acknowledgement is what motivates us to find ways to prevent autism. As such, we are investigating:

  • Whether autism can be prevented by treating immune-related issues during pregnancy; and
  • Whether we can identify babies most susceptible to inflammatory responses from mothers with known (or as yet unknown) underlying autoimmune issues.

During Autism Awareness Month, we’d like to invite you to get educated on autism and to learn more about the efforts being made to prevent this disorder. Feel free to browse our website, visit our blog, or join our discussion forum to learn more.

Categories: Autism
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