The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) leads the nation in celebrating the 14th World Autism Awareness Day according to Nations General Assembly (A/RES/62/139) declaring April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) every year to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of persons with autism spectrum disorder so they can lead full meaningful lives as an integral part of the society.

This year’s world theme is “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World”. The World Autism Awareness Day this year aims to bring individual autism organizations together for research, diagnosis, awareness, and treatment purpose. Although there’s no known cure for autism, there have been reports on the recovery of people with autism at their early age through early speech or behavioral interventions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in November 2019 that one in 160 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The report cited that ASD begins in childhood and tends to persist into adolescence and adulthood. While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support. Evidence-based psychosocial interventions, such as behavioral treatment and parent skills training programs reduce communication difficulties and improve social behavior creating a positive impact on well-being and quality of life for persons with ASD.

It declares that interventions for people with ASD need to be accompanied by broader actions for making physical, social, and attitudinal environments more accessible, inclusive, and supportive. Worldwide, people with ASD are often subject to stigma, discrimination, and human rights violations. Globally, access to services and support for people with ASD is inadequate.

This global event will be celebrated in the Philippines on the 5th of April instead of April 2nd to give way for the observance of the Christian Good Friday. The theme adopted by the Philippines this year is “Empowerment and Equal Opportunity: Together we can create a kinder and inclusive world for Persons with Disabilities.”

NCDA Executive Director Emerito L. Rojas announced that a virtual celebration on April 5th entitled “Webinars on Mainstreaming Persons with Autism in an Inclusive Society”. Topics to be discussed are 1. Myths and Facts About Autism Spectrum 2. Coping Anxiety Among Persons with Autism During the COVID-19 Pandemic 3. DOLE’s Integrated Livelihood Program for Persons with Disabilities and 4. Livelihood Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

Dr. Erlinda Borromeo, founding President of Autism Hearts Foundation based in San Francisco, California, USA, will join our invited distinguished resource persons to speak on the global overview of ASD.

The Philippine Association for Citizens with Learning and Developmental Disabilities (PACDLD) will lead the awarding of Autism Advocates at the Gateway Gallery in Araneta Center, Quezon City, where ten (10) staunch advocates of persons with autism will be recognized. They are the sterling pillars of autism in the Philippines who relentlessly supported persons with autism and their families.
In the dusk of this global event, the J. Amado Araneta Foundation together with Araneta City, Inc., will lead the Light-It-Up Blue (LIUB) ceremony by lighting with blue light the Araneta Coliseum’s facade. LIUB is a campaign initiated by Autism Speaks which encourages owners of iconic landmarks, skyscrapers, and homes around the world light up blue lights on April 2. Autism Speaks is a US-based non-government organization that promotes global support for persons with autism.
“On World Autism Awareness Day, the persons with autism must be taken into consideration in the formulation of policies and actions to counter the COVID-19 pandemic”, Rojas exclaimed.

“Let us work together in ensuring that policies to counter Covid-19 must likewise be responsive to the concerns of all persons with disabilities”, Rojas added.