Every year, World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is observed globally on April 2, with the prime objective of generating awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – a range of intricate neuro-developmental disorders characterized by difficulties in communication, social impairments, and repetitive stereotyped behavioral patterns. Sponsored by the UN Department of Global Communications and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, (along with other organizations), this one-day event aims to put a spotlight on the challenges that people with autism face every day. Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO, 2017 statistics) suggest that about one out of every 160 children is living with ASD around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States.

Generally, autism symptoms begin in early childhood. In some cases, symptoms normally develop within the first few months or years of life, but then suddenly go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months of age. Symptoms become completely visible by the age of 2 years. Each child with ASD is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior and level of severity – from low functioning to high functioning. Common symptoms include – not pointing at objects to show interest, having trouble relating to others, repeating actions over and over again, having trouble adapting to routine changes, poor eye contact and lack of facial expression. Treatment options for ASD include medications and a host of behavioral, communication and educational therapies. Developmental pediatricians, child neurologists and child psychologists / psychiatrists treating autism patients can rely on medical coding outsourcing companies to report ASD diagnosis and screening accurately.

The 2019 annual WAAD campaign highlights the need to help and improve the quality of life of those people who are dealing with autism so that they can live a meaningful life as an integral part of the society. This can be done through appropriate support, accommodation and acceptance so that those on the spectrum can enjoy equal opportunity, and effectively participate in society.

Autism doesn’t mean mentally retarded. Rather, it is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. Some children with autism are very bright and may have incredible talent or ability in several areas like art, writing, music, and memory. With early diagnosis and correct intensive training, many children improve their behavior, skills and language development. The WAAD one-day event is the perfect platform to educate people about how early diagnosis and intervention can help a child with autism to reach his/her potential. The ideal age to start intervention is less than three years of age; the earlier the better.

As autism spectrum disorder varies widely in symptoms and severity, making a correct diagnosis can often be quite difficult. Specialists may diagnose the condition by closely observing the child’s social interactions, communication and behavioral skills and evaluating how it has developed over the different stages of their growth. In addition, genetic testing will also be done to identify whether the child has a genetic disorder such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. There is no specific cure and no one-size-fits-all treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The ultimate goal of treatment is to maximize the child’s ability to function by reducing symptoms and supporting development and learning. Treatment options may focus on medications, behavior and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies and other therapies (like physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapies).

The diagnosis tests and other procedures performed by developmental pediatricians, child neurologists and child psychologists must be carefully documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services ensure this so that claim denials are avoided. The ICD-10 code used for diagnosing ASD is –

  • F84.0 – Autistic disorder

The theme for 2019 WAAD – “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation”- signifies the need for access to technology in improving the lives of people living with any form of disability including autism. For people with autism disorder, access to affordable assistive technologies is a prerequisite to being able to exercise their basic human rights and participate completely in the life of their communities. Assistive technology can eliminate or reduce the barriers to their participation on an equal basis with others.

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was first launched in November 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly when it realized the importance of assigning a separate day as “World Autism Day”. The resolution was passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18th of 2007. The First World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was celebrated in 2008.

As part of the campaign, a wide range of events and activities are organized worldwide on this day to raise the profile of autism in the public’s eye. These events include panel discussions with different health or autism-specific organizations, artistic workshops for individuals with autism, exhibitions of artwork done by artists who are autistic, news stories about autism, and special clinics to help medical professionals acquaint themselves with this disorder and its treatment. 

Join World Autism Awareness Day celebration! Know more about this neurological disorder.