Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The University Of Utah Goes Blue For Autism

New York Senate
University of Utah lights up the Legacy Bridge for World Autism Awareness Day

The United Nations declared April 2 World Autism Awareness Day eight years ago, and today organizations and governments across the globe are showing their support by illuminating buildings, monuments and bridges with blue lights at nightfall.

For the second consecutive year, the University of Utah will light up the George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Bill McMahon is a professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry within the School of Medicine at the University of Utah and said people aren’t aware of how widespread Autism is.

“The important and surprising things about Autism is that it’s so common. It probably affects between one and two percent of our population," McMahon said. "It’s probably been that way for a long time but we just didn’t recognize it."

McMahon said people with autism aren’t looking for a cure – they’re looking for something deeper.

“Adults with Autism in particular often are offended by the notion that the rest of us want to cure them of their Autism," McMahon said. "These adults don’t want to be cured, they just want to be accommodated and included. It’s more of a civil rights issue than a curative issue.”

He said people with autism are no different than the rest of us.

“At the heart they have the same need for compassion acceptance, respect that anyone else needs," McMahon said. "You might think of the traits of autism as analogous to, say colorblindness or deafness.”

McMahon said lighting the Legacy Bridge brings awareness about Autism to more than their campus, but to the broader mountain community surrounding the U of U.