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Science Weighs In: Autism Awareness Month Has a Huge Positive Impact

Researchers note big uptick in web searches on autism each April; biggest increases since launch of World Autism Awareness Day
June 27, 2014

Each April, World Autism Awareness Day and Light It Up Blue bring blue puzzle pins and lights to communities and TV screens around the world. But does Autism Awareness Month actually increase awareness of autism spectrum disorder?

Drexel University researchers say “yes,” based on their analysis of web-search trends.

Since 2004, Google searches for “autism” have jumped each April – on average by a third over the previous month. The April spikes in interest have been particularly large since 2007. That was the year that the United Nations General Assembly officially created World Autism Awareness Day, thanks in part to the efforts of Autism Speaks and its co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright.

The researchers also noted sustained year-round interest in autism over the last 10 years, and a steadily growing interest in “Asperger’s.”

“This analysis of web trends shows the important ways that Light It Up Blue  is not merely a celebration, but a valuable and vital method of raising awareness worldwide,” comments Michael Rosen, Autism Speaks executive vice president for strategic communications.

The report appears online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders