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April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to raise public consciousness about autism and autism spectrum disorders.  You should be aware of what is happening this month to raise awareness, and new facts that have just been reported about autism diagnoses.

One of the most prominent signs you may see – or wear yourself – indicating the significance of this month is the Puzzle Ribbon, produced by the nonprofit Autism Society.  This ribbon featuring multi-colored puzzle pieces is an internationally-recognized symbol of autism awareness.  Wear it with pride and thank others when you see them wearing it.

If you noticed an iconic building in your city illuminated in blue on Monday evening and wondered why, it was in honor of World Autism Awareness Day, sanctioned by the United Nations and initiated by the nonprofit organization Autism Speaks.  From the Empire State Building to Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer Statue, from Tokyo Tower to Graceland in Memphis, a blue light of awareness shown on close to 3,000 structures in more than 600 cities throughout the world.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control reveals a sharp increase in the rate of autism diagnoses. In the United States today, one in every 88 children is diagnosed with autism or an autism-related disorder.  While the diagnosis rate has been rising for years, the recent numbers represent a large increase: since 2006, there has been a 23% increase, and since 2002, a 78% increase.  One difficult question is whether this increase in diagnoses actually represents an increase in autism.  Public health officials say that the increase may be partly accounted for by more successful efforts to diagnose autism in younger and minority children.

What autism events and facts do I need to be aware of:

  • The Puzzle Ribbon is a recognized symbol of autism awareness that benefits the Autism Society
  • April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day, initiated by Autism Speaks and marked with their Light It Up Blue campaign
  • Autism diagnoses have risen sharply: now one in every 88 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism or an autism-related disorder

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