Blog Post

DBP Members Celebrate Autism Awareness Month

April 6, 2021

April is dedicated to raising awareness about autism. The month starts off strong with World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. Monuments and landmarks across the globe lit up blue last Friday to visually show support and promote awareness for autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is used to describe the varying degrees a person’s development is affected. Symptoms range from difficulty with communication and social interactions, repetitive behaviors and obsessive interests. There is no cure for autism, but treatment in the form early intervention therapy is common.

In the United States alone there are over 3.5 million people on the spectrum. The prevalence of autism in American children has increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). Also boys are five times more likely to affected by autism than girls. Geneticists explain this through the “female protective model.” This model suggests that girls have a higher tolerance for detrimental genetic mutations and therefore require a larger number of them than boys to reach the diagnostic threshold of a developmental disorder.

With this developmental disability on the rise, how is our society responding?

Businesses and technologies are seeking ways to enhance the communication abilities of autistic people. For instance, Apple has released videos showing how the iPad paired with three apps (Proloquo4Text, Assistive Express and Keeble) can help a non-verbal autistic teenager type on his iPad and talk with people around him.

DBP member Freddie Mac has been hiring recent college graduates with autism as paid interns through a partnership with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network since 2011.

Walgreens, another DBP member, employs a high number of individuals with autism and other disabilities at a distribution center in Anderson, South Carolina, which it opened in 2007. This company has also built a mock store in Evanston, Illinois, as part of a workplace training program for individuals with ASD and other disabilities. It established the program in partnership with the Have Dreams Academy.

To recognize the need to continue to raise awareness for autism, we at Diversity Best Practices asked our members to share what their organizations will be doing this month to acknowledge Autism Awareness Month and/or World Autism Day.

American Airlines

Light it up Blue – AA employees join together in support of Autism Awareness Month by lighting up their communities or wearing blue.

Our Bridges Employee Business Resource Group (inter-faith, multi-cultural) chapter in Phoenix is hosting an Autism Awareness Event in support of Arizona Autism United.

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American Airlines Celebrates Autism Awareness Month
American Airlines


Light it Up Blue for Autism Awareness

When Molly Painter’s son Gabe was two and a half years old, she noticed he wasn’t meeting critical developmental milestones, particularly in the area of speech and communication

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Molly, senior director of Marketing in U.S. Hematology, brought Gabe to a developmental pediatrician, who diagnosed him with autism. Since then, their family has managed an intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy schedule at his school and regular visits with several specialists. She says that a combination of early intervention, ABA therapy and infusion treatment have all helped Gabe, now 5 years old, make progress in his speech, communication and in other areas.

“It’s one of those disease states that’s not black and white in terms of its treatment plan, and each child presents differently,” Molly explains. “I’m the captain of his treatment team, and it’s a full-time effort that takes a lot of work and passion from a lot of people.”

During National Autism Awareness Month in April, and for the Light It Up Blue campaign on World Autism Awareness Day (April 2), we will raise awareness of families like Molly’s around the world who are affected by autism as well as support the colleagues working beside us who live on the autism spectrum.

To learn more about the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), please visit the National Institute for Mental Health’s and the Autism Society of Illinois websites.

Next week, the EnAbles BRG will be helping raise awareness of autism, and we encourage you to also get involved:

Wear blue on Saturday, April 2, and Monday, April 4, at work as part of the Light It Up Blue campaign. We’d love if you could share a picture of your blue outfit by uploading it to the Enables Community on the Baxalta Intranet.

Get a free light in one of the kitchenettes in your location to clip onto your attire on Monday, April 4, to show your support for the Light It Up Blue campaign and autism awareness.

If interested, feel free to make a donation to the Autism Society of Illinois online and apply for a match through Baxalta’s Matching Gifts Program.

Molly, a member of Baxalta’s EnAbles business resource group (BRG), appreciates being able to make a difference in the autism community through her role on the board of Autism Society of Illinois.

“I joined the board because I feel that’s where I can make the biggest impact,” she says. “You can either be a victim or someone who wants to take this head on and make changes.”

She encourages other parents of children with autism to take charge of their children’s diagnosis and treatment early on, and to see the unique beauty of every child.

“They have such a gift to give. I’m excited to see what Gabe offers the world,” Molly shares. “I’m completely blessed by this kid.”


April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, which raises awareness of autism globally and stresses the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Autism Speaks marks the occasion with its international Light It Up Blue Campaign, and the FINRA Disability and Wellness Network (DAWN) encourages employees and their families to “light it up” by wearing blue. This year, DAWN is inviting employees to don their blue finery on Friday, April 1, or Monday, April 4 (since April 2 falls on a Saturday this year). The campaign will run all month, with the goal of raising at least $500 for Autism Speaks.

As part of the 2016 campaign, DAWN is hosting its second annual “Light It Up Blue” Picture Contest. Throughout April, employees can submit photos depicting their support of Light It Up Blue and World Autism Awareness Day. The first, second and third place winners will receive gift cards—but it’s not about the prize, it’s about the cause!

DAWN has been involved in the Light It Up Blue campaign since it began as an ERG representing FINRA employees, family and friends with disabilities, and members are always amazed by how much the FINRA community as a whole embraces this important effort. Pictured below are members of the Dispute Resolution West Regional Office staff in Los Angeles, who took part in 2015’s Light It Up Blue event.

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Toyota is proud to have an ERG called, “ToyotAbility”. This ERG or as we call them, Business Partnering Group (BPG), was established to provide Toyota team members with a BPG that embraces people and families with physical, non-visible, temporary and permanent disabilities. ToyotAbility is committed to creating awareness of the products and services Toyota has to offer for people with disabilities – encouraging internal groups to consider this growing demographics’ perspective into future product design and marketing.

In April, ToyotAbility will sponsor the Autism Speaks Walk. Autism Speaks Walk is an inspirational and impactful opportunity to raise money and awareness to help change the future for all those who struggle with autism. Participating in Autism Speaks Walk empowers you to make a difference and provides you with an opportunity to honor someone with autism. Everyone is touched by autism in a different way. Join us and share your personal story as we unite our communities and raise funds to: – Fund biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and possible cure for autism- Raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families and society- Bring hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder- Bring together the autism community as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to take action.

ToyotAbility will have Toyota team members participating in the walk, host a booth and a present a vehicle display. The vehicle on display will be our Toyota Sienna Van with the Auto Access Seat and our Blue handprint activity. I would love to have you speak directly to one of the ToyotAbility chairs, if you would like more detailed information. The walk is scheduled for April 2nd in Pasadena, CA.


Saturday, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day, this year’s theme is Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity. To mark the occasion, the disAbilities Awareness Network is encouraging everyone to wear blue on Friday, April 1 to help increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders.

Please share this with your colleagues and business networks.

Take a picture of you and your colleagues wearing blue and submit to GM – disAbilities via email. We will post your pictures on the disAbilities Awareness website. Click to see pictures from 2015.

Thank you in advance for your support!

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of children and adults who are affected by autism, so they can lead full and meaningful lives. Autism is one of only three health issues the UN recognizes with a dedicated global awareness day.

According to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, approximately 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.

April 2 is a day to increase your knowledge of autism and impart information about the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. It is also a day to celebrate the unique talents and skills of persons with autism around the world. Wearing blue on April 2 is one way to show support and awareness.

For more information regarding World Autism Day, visit: