Shining a Brighter Light on Autism

By Jayna Smith

April 2nd marks World Autism Awareness Day, first adopted in 2007 by the United Nations to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health priority.  As the Autism Speaks website (www.autismspeaks.org) explains, each year on World Autism Day since 2010, Autism Speaks celebrates its international "Light It Up Blue" campaign.  

Light It Up Blue is a time when businesses, residences, and more, unite by sharing bright blue lights in honor of the millions of individuals and families affected by autism.   Landmarks such as New York City's Madison Square Garden and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will also take part.  As well, many in our community will switch their regular outside light for a blue one in honor of the day.

"Autism awareness is very important as 1 in 68 U.S. children are identified as on the autism spectrum," Calais resident Heather White said, adding that 1 in 42 boys in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism.  Light It Up Blue spreads awareness and understanding of autism, celebrates and honors the unique talents and skills of people with autism, and brings attention to the needs of all people with autism.  

White said, "It is particularly important for me to raise awareness because my son Caleb was diagnosed two years ago after years of challenges with anxiety and sensory processing difficulties.  Social situations remain difficult for Caleb; however, with continued awareness and education, his friends and teachers have found ways to support him in the classroom.

"Light It Up Blue is a day to shine a light on autism and the need for continued awareness and education in the school and community.  It helps my son feel included and understood when his peers are learning about his unique qualities and personal challenges."

At Calais Elementary School, students and staff have been encouraged to wear blue on Friday.  As well, Principal Mrs. Sue Carter said throughout the month of April, the students will be provided with education on the topic.

 

People all over the world are encouraged to wear blue shirts, hats, scarves and other attire to recognize the day, and even more, change standard outside light bulbs to blue, but not just for the day, for the entire month of April.  Blue bulbs can be purchased locally at both Calais Ace Homecenter and Johnson’s True Value.