When driving through downtown on April 2, you'll notice that the Austin skyline will appear a bit bluer than usual. What you’ll see is part of a global initiative to raise autism awareness through the efforts of local businesses to Light It Up Blue.
In conjunction with Autism Speaks, Light It Up Blue is a tool to shine a light on the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S., using iconic buildings as a visible reminder.
April 2 marks World Autism Awareness Day, and landmarks including the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House have lit up in previous years.
Local businesses and buildings in Austin join those landmarks and thousands of others this year in making a statement for autism awareness. One of those local Austin businesses is HomeAway, and company co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Carl Shepherd is proud to support those who need help.
“The HomeAway family of 1,200 worldwide employees includes many children, brothers and sisters who are on the Autistic Spectrum. Participating in Light It Up Blue is a visible way for us to stand with not only these employees but also the thousands of families in Central Texas who love, value and respect people with autism.”
HomeAway employee Steve Koon, a senior systems engineer, is the father of an 11-year-old son with autism. Koon personally understands the importance of raising awareness and how it can help families and their children if autism is identified at an early age.
“Light It Up Blue is an important initiative to help raise awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorders, as many don't realize that there [are] varying degrees of autism and no easy way to detect it,” says Koon. “If parents don't identify their child as autistic at an early age then it becomes increasingly difficult to get aid and access to services as the child gets older.”
The goal of Light It Up Blue isn’t just to raise awareness of autism, but to continue helping families after the blue lights are switched out.
“People may shy away from or even fear what they don’t understand,” says Shepherd. “Events like Light It Up Blue offer a way to drive awareness that people with special needs, like autism, are people first.”
Learn more about the Light It Up Blue initiative through Autism Speaks.