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Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day

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April 2 is observed as World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a worldwide event that kicks off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism.

Each year, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue with the international autism community. World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis.

From New York City's Empire State Building to schools, hospitals, museums and businesses around the world, blue lights will shine to raise awareness

You can light it up blue by wearing blue, replacing your external lights with blue light bulbs and adding the Light It Up Blue logo to your Facebook page.

Autism now affects one in 68 children, including one in 42 boys. Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States.

Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism. There is no medical detection or cure for autism and autism's average cost to a family is $60,000 per year.

Some of the unusual behaviors a child with autism may exhibit include failing to make eye contact, not responding to his name or playing with toys in unusual, repetitive ways.

Research shows that early behavioral intervention improves the outlook for young children with autism, improving learning, social skills and communication.

The intervention engages parents and children, focusing on the core areas affected by autism. These include social skills, language and communication, imitation, play skills, daily living and motor skills.

The following red flags may indicate a child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. Parents should ask their child's pediatrician for an evaluation if the child exhibits one or more of these behaviors:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

Although living with autism can be challenging, early intervention can help your child thrive. Parents can receive help from family, friends and support groups.

Light It Up Blue on April 2 and throughout the month at your home or office. Know the early signs of autism, support research and shine a light on autism.

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