Autism Awareness Day spotlights discrimination

(CBS News) Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations recognizes today to spread awareness on the developmental disability that affects tens of millions of people worldwide and according to the Secretary-General, to put an end to the discrimination many people with an autism spectrum disorder face daily.

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"Autism is not limited to a single region or a country; it is a worldwide challenge that requires global action," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a written statement.

The resolution to declare every April 2nd World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the U.N. in 2007, and as Secretary-General Ki-moon noted, although the disorder starts in childhood, it persists throughout a person's life.

The Secretary-General said globally, there needs to be greater political commitment and investments in social, education, and labor sectors to address the "unique needs of people with autism and cultivate their talents."

Ki-moon called on the international community to cooperate and share its good practices to promote more research, better train care providers, and help support the autism community.

He also said the U.N. recognizes this Awareness Day to "spur such action and draw attention to the unacceptable discrimination, abuse and isolation experienced by people with autism and their loved ones."

A recent survey of U.S. children found 63 percent of parents responded that their child with autism had been bullied, CBS News reported. Children with Asperger's were bullied most among responders.

A recent CDC reportestimated one in 88 children has autism, a 23 percent increase since the last report in 2009, and a 78 percent increase since the CDC's first report in 2007.

For World Autism Awareness Day, the U.N. will release six commemorative postage stamps and two collectible envelopes with images created by artists diagnosed with autism that were provided by advocacy organization Autism Speaks.

"Let us all continue to join hands to enable people with autism and other neurological differences to realize their potential and enjoy the opportunities and well-being that are their birthright," the Secretary-General said.

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