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World Autism Awareness Day 2024

World Autism Awareness Day takes place every year on the 2nd of April and is a designated United Nations Day of Observance.

On December 18th 2007, The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day, to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with Autism so that they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.

This year, the theme of Autism Awareness Day is ‘Moving from Surviving to Thriving’.

Read more about World Autism Awareness Day here or see the UN website –

What can you do to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day?

  • Speak to the Autistic people in your life, find out how they would like to mark the day.
  • Promote understanding and acceptance of the Autistic community within your friend and family circles.
  • Learn more by reading a book or watching a video relating to Autism or Autistic people’s experiences.
  • If the Autistic person in your life has a particular interest/hobby, why not organise a family day out/activity centred around that.
  • If you own a business, learn more about how you can support people with Autism by getting in touch with us.
  • Remember that every Autistic person is different, every person has their strengths and challenges, treat each person with respect and as an individual.

What can your School do to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day?

  • Talk to your Autistic pupils, ask how they feel the school can promote more understanding and acceptance.
  • Consider holding a school-wide awareness day and share some resources with your pupils.
  • Contact the Irish Society for Autism to request some information resources for your school.
  • Twinkl, the NCSE, Outside the Box and the Middletown Centre for Autism also have numerous resources available which may help.

The Amazing Things Happen video may be helpful:

Pursuing a rights-based future for all Autistic people

While many positive steps have been taken in the last year, such as the release of the Joint Committee on Autism’s final report and the draft Autism Innovation Strategy, a robust legal framework to protect the rights of Autistic people is still not in place in Ireland.

The European Charter of Rights for Person’s with Autism, which was signed and passed by the European Parliament in 1996, noted that “people with Autism should share the same rights and privileges enjoyed by all of the European population where such are appropriate and in the best interests of the person with Autism. These rights should be enhanced, protected and enforced by appropriate legislation in each State”. The Autism Bill 2017 would provide appropriate legislation, yet it remains stagnant in its 2nd stage of the Dáil, having passed all 5 stages in the Seanad.

Similarly, although the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was ratified by our country in 2018, eight years later we have yet to ratify the Optional Protocol. The Optional Protocol would allow for an individual complaints mechanism for the UNCRPD. States who ratify the Optional Protocol agree to recognise the competence of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints from individuals or groups who claim their rights under the Convention have been violated. Again, legal recourse and protection has been kept out of reach of Autistic people.

More recently, the Joint Committee on Autism’s final report in 2023 contained 192 recommendations for Government, the first of which is to “Enact legislation which requires the State to publish an autism strategy every three years, establish a committee or monitoring group featuring autistic people to participate in drafting and monitoring the strategy and require the Minister for Disabilities of the day to address both houses of the Oireachtas annually to provide an update regarding its progress”.

This World Autism Awareness Day, we must continue to push ahead in the pursuit of the rights of Autistic people as full citizens of this country.

All Government Departments, State Bodies, and Committees need to come together to encourage the progression of the Autism Bill, to implement the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Autism’s final report, and to ratify the Optional Protocol of the UNCRPD.