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World Autism Awareness Day 2015: Characteristics of Autism

displaymediaWorld Autism Awareness Day takes place every year on April 2nd. The aim of the day is to spread awareness about a neurological disorder called autism. The resolution for World Awareness Day was adopted by the UN in December 2007, and since then countries across the globe have been highlighting the importance of understanding autism.

Did you know that according to the National Autistic Society, Autism is the world’s third most common development disorder? One in every 100 people suffers from autism in the UK and around one in every 68 children in America, but those figures are nothing compared to India: close to 15 million people suffer from autism at present. It’s when we realize that so many people suffer from autism across the world that days like World Autism Awareness Day become so important.

The CN Tower lit up blue last year for World Autism Awareness Day

The CN Tower was lit up blue last year for World Autism Awareness Day

What is autism?

Autism Speaks describes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism as “a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.”

The most obvious signs of autism tend to emerge between two and three years of ages, highlighting that autism has roots in early brain development.


When we first started researching and trying to understand autism, one of the most important things that we discovered is the fact that every autistic person is different and they have their own idiosyncratic characteristics.

This means that a child’s senses and development of skills are not in sync, this may lead to a situation where a child may have developed cognitive skills while language, social or motor skills may lag behind, for example. Some children become sensitive to noise, light or smell while others may find social interaction challenging. These are some of the not-so-subtle signs that all parents needs to look out for.

People with autism often suffer from restricted behaviour and establish an affinity towards routine and find it difficult to accept change.

An autistic child may show signs of finding it difficult to make sense of the world around them and communicating their feelings. This includes establishing relationships with people, being able to express themselves, understanding metaphors or associating symbols with language.

We have briefly described autism and some of the systems to look out for, so it’s definitely worth doing your research to find out more. Even if you don’t know anyone who suffers from autism, spreading the word about the disorder can only better our communities.


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National Autism Awareness Month

April…April, what is April known for? April Fool’s Day, spring and April showers? When someone thinks of the month April, autism isn’t necessary the first thing that springs to mind. We hope that soon it will be because of the continued efforts of National Autism Awareness Month (NAAM).

The Autism Society started celebrating National Autism Awareness Month in the 1970s as a way to highlight the growing concern and awareness about autism in USA. It is a month where educators are given the opportunity to teach the public about autism and the issues within the autism community. 

However, supporters of the cause still need to push forward for further worldwide recognition. There are many things we can do, as shown on the Autism Society website:

1.Place the NAAM logo badge on your blog, Facebook profile, Twitter page or other social media site! Customize it to include your logo too!

2. Download a toolkit of visual and content resources to help you celebrate National Autism Awareness Month!

3. Create your own National Autism Awareness Month event!

4. Sign up for e-newsletter Autism Matters to continue sharing ideas on how to make a better world for autism here.

5. Put on the Puzzle! The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 68 children in America. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture – and educate folks on the potential of people with autism! To purchase the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon for your shirt, car, locker or refrigerator, click here.

6. Connect with your neighbourhood. Many Autism Society local affiliates hold special events in their communities throughout the month of April. But if you can’t find an event that suits you just right, create your own!

Light in the Attic Learning is a tutoring company based in Canada, a country which proudly supports autism awareness. On October 23, 2012, a bill was passed making each and every April 2 officially recognized as World Autism Awareness Day in Canada. Not only that but Canada has joined in the “Light It Up Blue” initiative – on April 2 many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores are lit blue to raise autism awareness. Here are a few pictures of famous landmarks in Canada that turned blue this week: CN Tower BC Place Niagara Falls













Here at Light in the Attic Learning, we understand that many teachers aren’t fully prepared to successfully educate children with autism. We are. We can cater, develop and produce after school learning programs ensure that every child, with or without autism, is able to reach their full potential in and out of school. Please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions!

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Earth Hour: Why millions worldwide will switch off lights

Tomorrow, March 29, at 8.30pm millions of people are expected to switch off their lights in their offices and homes. Countries worldwide are also going to switch off the lights on famous landmarks to mark WWF’s annual Earth Hour.

The mass participation event is to show support and commitment for environmental change. The CN Tower, Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), Rogers Centre, Oxford Properties – MetroCentre, The Fairmont Royal York hotel, Air Canada Centre, Roy Thomson Hall and Bell Media’s Toronto Headquarters will turn off their lights as a symbol of their commitment to the planet.

This year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is planning to launch its latest report on Monday, a few days after Earth Hour. It will outline how global warming is going to affect food supplies, water, the weather and wildlife in the coming years. Earth Hour allows families to prepare and educate themselves not only on these foreseeable changes but how making a conscious effort in one’s daily life can help to reduce the carbon footprint.

“The significance of these two events is massive. Climate change is the biggest environmental threat facing our planet – it’s real, it’s happening right now, and we need to act fast” said Colin Butfield, director of public engagement and campaigns at WWF-UK.

There are many fun educational ways parents can approach the topic of climate change with young children and teenagers alike. Why not research the history of famous landmarks that take part in Earth Hour? Find out about endangered species and come up with innovative ways we can save energy. For ideas of things to do in the dark during Earth Hour, The Guardian has put together an interesting list of ideas

It’s important that children understand that switching off the lights for an hour isn’t going to help climate change, but the symbolism behind it will. According to WWF more than 7000 cities in 154 countries took part in Earth Hour last year, the result saw thousands of people tackle a range of issues from energy to deforestation and oil pollution. It is now the world’s biggest environmental event. Earth Hour’s CEO and co-founder, Andy Ridley, said:

“For us the symbolism or turning your lights off will always be important. But the big thing for us has always been how to push it beyond the hour. The stage we’re at now is to make it really easy for people from their handset, tablet or laptop to be able to do something pretty immediate to make a difference. That’s the holy grail for us – building a global collective movement, far beyond the event, where the event becomes a kind of inspiration but the movement is really the essence of it.”

It is essential that there is strong environmental teaching at home and in school, so we can build on past successes that WWF and other charities have created. As Nelson Mandela said: 

“Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our future as humanity on this planet.”

Source: The Guardian

Earth Hour 2012 in London UK. Photo source: The Guardian

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