UN to mark World Autism Awareness Day with virtual event

By Mao Lei

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations said Tuesday it will mark this year's World Autism Awareness Day with a global virtual event on April 2, with the highlight on contributions of autistic people worldwide.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2007 to designate April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, which has been observed annually beginning in 2008.

This year's virtual event, themed on "Transformation: Toward a Neuro-Inclusive World for All," will feature four moderated panel discussions and will specifically explore the contributions autistic people make at home, at work, in the arts and in policymaking, the world body said in a note to correspondents.

The event is also expected to shed light on how to sustain the transformation of autism narrative around neurodiversity -- the idea that people experience and interact with the world in many different ways and that there is no one "right" way -- in order to overcome barriers and improve the lives of autistic people.

According to the United Nations, the narrative around autism is gradually moving away from misconceptions of curing and converting autistic people to an inclusive approach focusing on accepting, supporting and involving autistic people, and embracing the concept of neurodiversity.

Medical professionals, researchers and academics in many countries are now incorporating in their work the neurodiversity paradigm, coined by sociologist Judy Singer in the late 1990s, according to the United Nations.

This year's observance is organized by relevant UN departments in collaboration with the Switzerland-based Institute of Neurodiversity, an organization that the United Nations said is "established and run by neurodivergent people for neurodivergent people and allies."

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