Light It Up Blue: 8 Ways to Mark Autism Awareness Month

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine
Beyond the Spectrum at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Approximately 1 in 59 American children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. April is Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month, a time to raise awareness of the differences of those on the spectrum, and also celebrate people of all abilities and with all types of minds. It kicks off with World Autism Day on April 2 when buildings around the world will “light it up blue,” and autism-friendly events and activities follow throughout the month. Here’s a roundup of some educational, celebratory, and sensory-friendly events happening here in the Bay State.

1. 10th Annual Autism Awareness & Acceptance Celebration

Tuesday, April 2

5:30-8 p.m.

UMass Medical School, Worcester

In conjunction with World Autism Day, UMass Medical School will hold their Light It Up Blue event, an occasion that began nine years ago with lighting the medical school building blue. It has since grown into a community event for families and service providers to come together in celebration of autism awareness and acceptance. Stop by the Albert Sherman Center for entertainment, food and music. Family-friendly activities include drumming and face painting, while families can find information and resources from various community providers from central Massachusetts. For more information visit, or contact 774-455-4100 or

2. Spring Autism Fair: Research & Fun Day

Saturday, April 6

9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston

Bring the whole family to have fun with sensory activities including arts and crafts, a photo booth and a magical musician at this event put on by the Autism Spectrum Center and the SPARKS Study Team at the Boston Children’s Hospital. Speak to a variety of resource groups and participate in landmark research. Listen to “lightning” talks by experts in the field; topics include “Medical Marijuana or CBD for Autism: Miracle or Myth?” and “Tips for Handling Food Refusal and Picky Eating.” Brunch will be provided. For more information email, call 617-355-8300. Register here

3. Beyond the Spectrum: Kids’ Art Class

Saturday, April 6

10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Beyond the Spectrum is a specially designed program for children and teens with autism at the Museum of Fine Arts. This class, for children ages 8-12, features a structured gallery tour led by an experienced instructor, followed by a creative art-making workshop. Children must be accompanied by an adult or caregiver. Class is $9 per student, which includes materials and museum admission. For more information and to sign up, visit Advanced registration required.

4. Big Apple Circus Embraces Autism

Saturday, April 6

11 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.

Northshore Mall, Peabody

The Big Apple Show makes sensory-friendly adaptations to welcome ASD patrons and their families. There will be modifications to sound and lighting, a professionally staffed calming area in the lobby, extra signage, and volunteers with helping hands, fidgets and earplugs. Social Story will be available as a PDF with ticket purchase. Tickets $10 at, or contact or 646-491-8934.

5. Autism Awareness & Acceptance Day

Thursday, April 11

9 a.m.- 1 p.m.

Great Hall of State House, Boston

Hosted by Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts, the annual Autism Awareness & Acceptance Day at the Boston State House invites the community to hear from speakers, legislators and self-advocates. Attendees are encouraged to visit their legislators to advocate for support of legislation and funding for autism-related services. For more information, see the Autism Awareness Day event page on Facebook.

6. Beyond the Spectrum: Teen Art Studio

Saturday, April 20

10:30 a.m.- 12 p.m.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Part of the museum’s monthly Beyond the Spectrum classes for individuals with autism, this class for 13-18-year-olds focuses on specific art topics, and incorporates discussion, critical inquiry and sketching in the galleries. Students then work independently on a project with guidance from an experienced instructor. Parents and caregivers are welcome, but not required to attend. Class is $9 per student, which includes materials and museum admission. For more information and to sign up, visit Advanced registration required.

7. “Especially for Me” at Discovery Museum

Saturday, April 27

5-8 p.m.

Discovery Museum, Acton

A free evening at the Discovery Museum just for families with members on the autism spectrum. Explore the hands-on museum, which blends science, nature and play, while it is closed to the general public. Take a nature adventure in the coolest, biggest treehouse in Discovery Woods, walk on the wiggly bridge to swing in the swaying nest. Everything is inclusive and fully accessible. Dinner, including gluten-free options, will be provided. Pre-registration required at, or contact 978-264-4200 ext. 114 or

8. Autism Speaks Day at Fenway Park

Saturday, April 27

Fenway Park, Boston

The Red Sox Autism Awareness Day extends a special welcome to individuals and families affected by autism across New England. Select members of the autism community will be included in the pre-game ceremonies, and social stories and a quiet zone will be available for all. The Red Sox will be playing the Tampa Bay Rays, and a portion of proceeds from each ticket will be donated to Autism Speaks. Buy tickets at