365 Days of Leadership: World Autism Day

April 2 is World Autism Day. The leadership lesson is that of social responsibility. The ethics of care (Held, 2006) holds that, “Close attention to the feelings, needs, desires and thoughts of those cared for, and a skill in understanding a situation from that person’s point of view, are central to caring for someone” (p. 31). When we care for others, we serve the greater good.

World Autism Day provides us with the opportunity to learn more about a condition which affects millions of children worldwide. According to the Autism awareness website, www.autismspeaks.org

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role.

Our sense of social and moral justice moves us to action. There are any number of excellent social causes which would benefit from your help. Let the light shine blue today for Autism awareness, and let your own light shine through to help an organization of your choosing.



Connie Hanner is a PhD student in non-profit organizational leadership and a veteran of both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Visit her leadership website at http://www.conniehanner.com. Find her on Face Book, Linked In and follow her on Twitter @HannerConnie.


Autism Speaks, Inc. (2015, April 2). What is Autism? Retrieved from Autism Speaks: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

Held, V. (2006). The ethics of Care: Personal, political and global. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

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