On December 18th 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/139, declaring that April 2nd of each year will mark World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). The declaration expressed deep concern at the prevalence and high rate of Autism in Children in all regions of the world and the consequential developmental challenges. It called on all countries, UN bodies, international organisations, and non-governmental groups to take steps to raise awareness of Autism.
In 2009, Pat Matthews Executive Director of the Irish Society for Autism, was invited to the United Nations in New York to speak on ‘Autism and Human Rights: Understanding and Safeguarding the Rights of People with Autism in observance of World Autism Awareness Day’. He stressed that what we needed was Autism awareness programmes, critical legislation which protects and promotes the rights of people living with Autism, and research to identify the causes.
Maria-Luisa Chavez, Chief of NGO Relations at United Nations Headquarters thanked Mr. Matthews for his contribution and for being an important part of the briefing – ‘it demonstrated to us that autism has been around longer than we have realised’.
That same year on World Autism Awareness Day, The Irish Society for Autism released balloons outside Government buildings, supported by Senators and TD’s from all parties in Dáil Éireann. The aim of the launch was to create awareness of Autism and the complex needs of children and adults with Autism.
We continue to mark the World Autism Awareness Day each year.