April 2, 2017 marks the ninth annual World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). This year’s theme is “Toward Autonomy and Self-Determination.” WAAD, created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, is a day dedicated to raising awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). WAAD is working to establish a society that offers equal opportunities to individuals with ASD and creates an accepting environment in which these individuals can thrive. As the global community comes together on this day, Grieboski Global Strategies challenges our readers to remember the ASD community and its struggles all year round. While those with ASD are often overlooked, we have the ability to support their success and foster an environment to encourage their autonomy.

For over 50 years, autism awareness has spread as researchers, doctors, and volunteers have worked closely to increase services and opportunities for individuals with ASD. Today, ASD affects 1 out of every 150 children around the world, making it an important global and local topic of discussion. While most people with ASD are socially inhibited in some way, the disorder affects everyone differently, shaping their weaknesses and often defining amazing strengths. These strengths have the potential to enrich our communities, but it is our role as change agents to come together for those who have ASD in celebration of the benefits that their special skill sets and perspectives contribute to our societies. We must be advocates for individuals with ASD and support the families, friends, and educators that work endlessly to promote disability rights.

Currently, there are many resources, forums, and organizations advocating for disability rights. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is part of the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development Disability. CRPD advances opportunities for individuals with disabilities by guaranteeing “legal capacity on an equal basis with others and in all aspects of life.” To read the training guide available by CRPD on how to work effectively with individuals with ASD, please refer to the following link. In conjunction with CRPD’s mission, the Autism Society launched a nationwide campaign this year to educate the global community on the rights of ASD individuals through five key goals: awareness, action, inclusion, acceptance, and appreciation. With Autism Society’s key goals, individuals can join together to become local and state affiliates to help support persons with ASD and their families throughout the United States. To get involved, please refer to the following link to find the contact information for all regional affiliates. Through the education of disability rights and active engagement of communities, we can build a more inclusive and empowered society.

Grieboski Global Strategies values the advancement of WAAD and works to support the rights of individuals with ASD. GGS promotes the inclusion of persons with disabilities and strives to provide services that solve problems and improve lives around the world. Please join us in support of Autism Awareness throughout the month of April by using the hashtag “#LIUB” (Light It Up Blue) on social media. GGS envisions a world where corporate, government, and nonprofit clients contribute to the ongoing positive development of society. With your support, we can work together to make change happen and increase the global awareness and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder.