By Lisa Jones
Research suggests that 1 out of every 150 children fit the broad definition of autism. (1) What better day than today, World Autism Awareness Day, to take a step towards better understanding the lives and learning styles of the millions of individuals around the world living with autism?
Autism receives less than five percent of the research funding of many less-prevalent childhood diseases (2), which is why raising awareness of and funding for efforts to treat the disease is critical. In Spain, 2012 Laureate Global Fellow Miriam Reyes Olivia not only raises awareness of autism but provides tools for autistic children and their families to experience the joys of reading and learning. Through her organization Apprendices Visuales, Miriam works with experts—from psychologists to illustrators—to design pictogram books that autistic children understand, because they are apprendices visuales—visual learners.
On average, autism costs a family $60,000 a year. (3) Knowing first-hand the financial burden that autism places on a family, Miriam makes the books available at no cost to families in need. She imagines a world where every autistic child has access to books that make learning not only possible, but a joyful experience.
In the video below, Miriam explains her inspiration for this work and her aspirations for the future. If you are inspired by Miriam and want to join in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day, share this article with #WAAD on Twitter or learn more about autism.