Every year on April 2, we join communities around the world to celebrate the annual World Autism Awareness Day. This is an event that encourages awareness about the existence of autism and the roughly 4 million autistic individuals around the world, or an estimated 1 in 54 children, according to 2020 data released by the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
Established in 2008 by the United Nations, today marks the 14th annual World Autism Awareness Day that we have had the privilege to celebrate in Stonington! We invite you to join us as we Light It Up Blue for the month of April to help spread kindness and raise autism awareness.
This year, the theme is ‘Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World’. A growing number of employers have launched inclusive employment programs, which capitalize on the skills and abilities of a more diverse talent pool. As more neurodiverse candidates enter the workforce, employers have reported seeing the benefits firsthand. Autistic people uphold an abundance of incredible traits and skills, which have been recognized by tech giants such as SAP, HP, New Relic, Microsoft, and other high-profile companies including Ford Motor, EY, and JPMorgan Chase. As one Executive as JPMorgan Chase noted, “Autistic employees produce, on average, 48% to 140% more work than their non-autistic colleagues, depending on their roles.” That last part is particularly important for employers looking to close skill gaps, as Harvard Business Review points out. Putting the right strategies in place, it becomes possible to diversify the workforce and ensure business needs are met.
The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the efforts of companies to implement new models, at a time when the international economy is undergoing the worst economic recession since the great depression, with the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs. At the same time, new ways of working, including remote working and the use of new technologies, have created opportunities for employees on the autistm spectrum that previously found it difficult to thrive in traditional work place environments.
We encourage all local employers to think about how they might be able to make their employment programs more inclusive.
For residents, stay tuned for upcoming educational links and activities that will be shared over the next four weeks by our team at Human Services. To kick off the month, our amazing team has assembled fun, FREE autism awareness buckets for local children which include: homemade blue play dough; one blue light bulb and bubbles! Limited supply available. Please stop by Human Services office (M-F - 9-12; 1-3:30) if would like one for your child.
Other ways to get involved, include finding ways to 'light the community up blue'. Decorate your door, change your light blubs, or find your own creative ways to shine blue brightly during the month of April- and please share your photos with us via email (LTheodore@stonington-ct.gov).