World Autism Awareness Day, April 2nd 2023

On April 2nd, we celebrate and bring awareness to people with autism. World Autism Awareness Day highlights the issues and barriers autistic people face on a daily basis, including ableism. It aims to raise public awareness on autism, while showcasing the beauty of the neurodivergent community.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly set April 2nd as the annual World Autism Awareness Day. It was only five years later, in 2013, that the American Psychiatric Association developed the notion that autism is a spectrum.


Using a binary framework, boys are around four times more likely to receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than girls. However, this is not because it is more prevalent among boys. Girls and other people socialised as women are often undiagnosed because they do not fit autistic stereotypes. They are also better at masking than people socialised as men.

Masking is the process of hiding behaviourisms to fit into a neurotypical world. In some spaces, autistic people do not feel safe enough to present and be their authentic selves. Therefore, they perform behaviours that are socially seen as acceptable. It is a survival strategy.

Ben-Oní, the founder of the community group Black Neurodiversity, made a an important statement about masking. We should take into account that ‘the more marginalised identities you hold, the less you have access to the privilege of unmasking’. To be able to unmask is to have the safety of being yourself.

However, not everyone has the same privilege. Many people of colour, especially Black neurodiverse people, are more likely to mask and code-switch because we live in a world that marginalises queerness, blackness and other identities. Black autistic people are not afforded the same safety to unmask.

Trans people are more likely to be autistic

Research has shown that trans and gender diverse people are more likely to be autistic. Trans people are three to six times more likely compared to cis people to have a diagnosis of autism. The University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre conducted this study using data from over 600,000 adults.

In the study, participants provided information about their gender identity and if they had ever received a diagnosis of autism. The university also asked its participants to complete a ‘measure of autistic traits’. Trans and gender diverse people were also more likely to have mental health illnesses such as depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia.

The research focused on data from patients who had obtained a diagnosis. However, it is likely that many autistic people were left undiagnosed. The outcome indicated that trans people are more likely to be autistic compared to their cis counterparts. Trans participants also scored higher on measures of autistic traits, regardless of whether they had been diagnosed with autism.

A collaborator on the study at the University of Toronto stated that understanding how autism manifests in trans and gender-diverse people will ‘enrich our knowledge about autism in relation to gender and sex’. In return, this will help doctors better recognise autistic traits and thus, provide better healthcare to all communities.

Myths about Autism

We are ready to debunk some myths about autistic people:

  • Myth: Vaccines cause autism. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about both vaccines and autism. Researchers and scientists have repeatedly tested all vaccines through clinical trials. They are safe to inject and most definitely do not cause autism.
  • Myth: Autistic people need to be cured. False. Autistic people do not need a cure. The majority of autistic people will explain that having autism is a part of their life and not an aspect of their identity they want to erase. We should focus on autistic people’s needs instead of forcing neurotypical behaviours onto them.
  • Myth: All autistic people have a ‘special talent’. First of all, autistic people are not a monolith. Therefore, each individual’s experience of autism is different. There is no one way to be autistic. Autism is complex and does not affect everyone the same way. More importantly, not all autistic people have a so-called special talent. Research suggests that only around 28% have such a talent. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. That is the same for autistic and neurotypical people.

We have provided you with some information on the correlation between trans identity and autism as well as given you an insight into several facts about autistic people. This World Autism Awareness Day, we hope neurotypical people educate themselves on the experiences of autistic people without further perpetuating harmful myths about this diverse community.