Banbridge town gets the blues

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At the start of next month Banbridge will be turning blue to mark World Autism Awareness Day.

Joining landmarks from around the world, including the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building and the Pyramids, the Civic Building and the Old Town Hall in Banbridge will be lighting up blue on April 2 to raise awareness of autism in Northern Ireland.

All 26 local Councils throughout Northern Ireland, NI Museums, as well as the NI Assembly have joined together to support this campaign

Speaking about the campaign, the Chairperson of Banbridge District Council Olive Mercer said: “The Council is delighted to support the work of Autism NI, to raise awareness of the challenges that those with Autism, and their carers face on a daily basis and by lighting the Town Hall Blue for World Autism Awareness Day the Council is championing the work of the charity.”

Autism NI’s Chief Executive, Arlene Cassidy commented: “We are very grateful that Banbridge District Council has chosen to support World Autism Awareness Month.

“It is vital that awareness is raised throughout Northern Ireland in relation to Autism, especially within the local community as there is still a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance in relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“By holding an event such as this, Banbridge District Council has helped to highlight this ‘hidden disability’ and give those affected the recognition they deserve,” she concluded.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that while all people with Autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.

There are currently over 20,000 people diagnosed with Autism within Northern Ireland, which outstrips the total number of those affected by Down’s Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.

World Autism Awareness Month therefore shines a bright light on Autism as a growing global health concern. It also celebrates the unique talents and skills of people with Autism and features community events around the world where individuals with Autism and their families are warmly welcomed and embraced.

Each year Autism NI raises awareness for the disability through a coordinated Awareness campaign during the month of April.