World Autism Awareness Month
World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2019. World Autism Awareness Month continues for the rest of April. During the month, people around the world will "go blue" in recognition of those with autism. You can take part by wearing or lighting up buildings with the colour blue.
The month is an important reminder to look at the current statistics on autism. According to Autism Spectrum Australia, an estimated 1 in 70 people in Australia are on the autism spectrum. There has also been an increase in the diagnoses of autism. Between the 2012 and 2015 census surveys, there was an increase of 42.1%. These statistics reveal that Autism impacts so many people and it is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.
Centro ASSIST’s Strategic Advisor, Arahni Sont, is the mother of a son on the autism spectrum. Over 28 years, she has experienced first-hand the challenges of raising a son with autism. She has also seen the growth in the prevalence of autism. Arahni has always considered autism to be a public health concern. It has never received enough attention from the government or medical research.
More research needs to go into autism not only to improve lives, but because it is putting a strain on the economy. In fact, 29% of all NDIS participants identify as being on the autism spectrum. This represents a large chunk of the NDIS funding. Money is being spent on supports and therapy for people with autism. Still, they are less likely to get an education and find employment. This means Australians living with the condition struggle to live a good life.
Autism Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about current policy issues. The government and leaders need to make changes to address autism as a public health issue. The Australian Autism Alliance is leading the campaign “Change 4 Autism”. The aim of this campaign is to highlight four main priorities for the 2019 federal election:
Urgent action to eliminate NDIS barriers to vital supports for autistic people
A National Autism Strategy to drive change
A Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with a disability
High-impact, sustainable disability advocacy
The campaign is a reminder to be constantly looking at the issues facing people with autism. It is ensuring that the voice of people living with autism and their families is heard.
While April is a chance to "go blue" for Autism Awareness, we must strive for change every day. People with Autism should have the support to exercise their rights and to live a good life.