History of NAAM & Ribbon

ribbon side view

History of #NAAM

The Autism Society, the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization since 1965, celebrates National Autism Awareness Month in April 2016. Launched as Autism Awareness Week in 1972, the Autism Society adopted the official observance of National Autism Awareness Month in 1984 as a critical step forward to increasing understanding about autism spectrum disorder.

The Autism Society’s symbol is the multi-colored Autism Awareness Ribbon — The puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope — hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and access to appropriate services/supports, people with autism will lead full lives able to interact with the world on the own terms.

What is the goal of #NAAM16?

The goal of the Autism Society and our over 100 nationwide affiliate network organizations for this year’s April, National Autism Awareness Month, is to draw attention to the needs of all those impacted by autism, advocating for effective options that meet the needs of one of the fastest-growing developmental disabilities. Individuals with autism are faced with the following issues, among others, at an increased rate compared to their neuro-typical peers:

  • Homelessness or lack of suitable housing options
  • Lack of employment or underemployment
  • Barriers to healthcare and appropriate medical treatments
  • Inability to gain access to higher education or training for a trade
  • Bullying or harassment at school and in the workforce

What is the difference between April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, and National Autism Awareness Month? 

In 2007, the United Nations voted to create April 2, World Autism Awareness Day.  Advocated for by Autism Speaks, Light It Up Blue is held on April 2 and one of the largest initiatives posed by Autism Speaks.  Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright and is an “autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.”