Today we mark International Autism Awareness Day. We recognize the importance of having such a day but state unambiguously that awareness should no longer be the goal. It is 2019 and we are aware.
We are aware of the vast heterogeneity that exists within this spectrum, which includes individuals with severe intellectual disability and others who are brilliant scholars.
We are aware of the striking rise in prevalence, from 1 in 125 ten years ago, to 1 in 59 today.
We are aware that, for some, autism is a severe impairment while for others it is an identity.
We are aware that there are no biomarkers for autism, that it a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability and that while valid diagnoses can usually be given by the age of two, the average age of diagnosis is four or even older.
Today, we must check the box next to awareness and move on to progress. Progress in acceptance, inclusion, and integration. Progress in understanding. Progress in society and in science.
We are proud to do our part. By bridging academia with the community, by focusing on interdisciplinary research and training, clinical services and community engagement, the Autism Center of the Hebrew University is working to advance this field on every level. We are only able to do this thanks to close collaboration with the autistic community, families, NGOs, government ministries and policymakers.
Together, let us move past awareness. Let us concentrate our efforts on progress.