Nichole Lowther plays with her son in their living room. She wasn’t diagnosed with autism until Matthew, now six, was diagnosed a few years ago. (David Swanson

EDITORIAL: April is World Autism Month

'Its prevalence in Canada has increased by more than 100 per cent in the past 10 years'

With so many worthy official “days” and months it’s hard to keep track.

Most people are aware of April being Daffodil Month, in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. It is also Organ Donation Awareness month.

Some may not know April also marks World Autism Month – a time to bring people more aware of one of the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorders in the country.

The 2018 National Autism Spectrum Disorder Surveillance System Report estimates autism’s prevalence as one in 66 children in Canada. This includes one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls.

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Its prevalence in Canada has increased by more than 100 per cent in the past 10 years.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is such a complex disorder that no two people on the spectrum are alike. A common explanation is that “if you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.”

The theme the United Nations General Assembly chose for World Autism Awareness Day in 2021 is Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World.

The social isolation we have experienced globally thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic has magnified the unique difficulties of individuals and families with members who are neurodivergent. The UN recognizes that the pandemic has highlighted inequalities from income to access to health care, protection under the law and political inclusion.

This year’s global theme was chosen to place focus on obstacles people with autism face such as discriminatory hiring practices and workplace environments. Slowly, employers in developing countries are turning toward inclusivity in their hiring practices.

It’s not just employers who need to take a hard look at the way neurodiverse people are treated. We all need to take the time to learn about ASD rather than shun someone who behaves differently than we do.

It is an important first step in opening up the discussion on the issue.

Black Press Media


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