I was genuinely overwhelmed with the turnout for the Autism Awareness Community Walk — over 250 attendees — who all came to the NYU Abu Dhabi campus for the same reason: to show support, love and acceptance for the autism community.
Each year, NYUAD organizes a month-long Autism Awareness campaign in April, hosting several events to highlight the need for increased acceptance and education around autism, which sees high prevalence rates in the UAE.
There was a moment during the community walk that I turned around and saw a sea of people with blue glowsticks creating a beautiful scene, all smiling, all in support of the cause. People from all walks of life were there from students, faculty, and members of the wider community of Abu Dhabi. The blue glowsticks and blue exterior lighting on campus were symbolic of the global Light It Up Blue movement in support of autism awareness.
The appreciation I heard from both sides — from those touched by autism and from those supporting them — exemplifies how this relationship is invaluable for both sides.
"The walk was an amazing indication of the amount of support the community has to offer," said Sally Oh, NYUAD Class of 2019 and member of the student planning committee. "The appreciation I heard from both sides — from those touched by autism and from those supporting them — exemplifies how this relationship is invaluable for both sides."
Something I learned as an intern with the Autism Support Network, specifically from Nipa Bhuptani, the founder of ASN, is the difference between simply raising awareness for autism and moving toward a deeper understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a condition and how it touches the lives of individuals. ASN and its partners work to ensure we know what the autism community’s needs are.
NYUAD’s valued community-based partner organizations include: Autism Support Network - Abu Dhabi (ASN), Goals UAE, UAE-ABA chapter and Emirates Autism Society.