Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness Day

LIUB-VERTAt awards shows, on the red carpet everyone is asked “Who are you wearing?” Today, I want to know what color are you wearing? I hope it’s blue. Today, worldwide, we all don blue for Autism Awareness Day. The education and fundraising day, April 2 each year, has, for several years, had international cooperation for the “Light It Up Blue” campaign, where landmarks in cities around the world light blue in the evening. From the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, even the International Space Station will be illuminated with blue lighting to mark the day.

Aside from our indigo t-shirts and porch lights, what does this day really mean? Autism Speaks, the advocacy organization out at the helm of the fight, tells us that 1 in 68 kids will develop autism (the figure is 1 in 42 for boys), and that autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. As we are all hyper-focused on insurance right now, it is interesting to note that a family will spend about $60,000 a year on autism-related expenses, and there is no cure at this time. Being “on the spectrum” of autism means very different things for each individual, and there seem to be many factors that come into play when we try to determine how an individual develops autism. The controversial vaccine theory that got so much attention has not really been borne out by science, but we are learning more every day about pre-natal care, genetics, parental age at conception, premature birth, complications in pregnancy, and more. While we are definitely learning more, we haven’t cracked the case yet—which is why it is so important to keep the bright blue spotlight on the cause, advocate for research funding, and—so crucial—support individuals and families dealing with autism.

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