While the main media focus will be on Valentine's Day today, many churches across the UK have been 'spreading the love' in a rather different way - by showing support for those living with autism and those who support and care for them, both family and friends.
All Saints Church in Woodford Wells hosted the London Service for the event on 14 February 2010. The hundreds of guests included government ministers, politicians, faith and public leaders.
Autism Sunday, which was established in 2002 by Ivan and Charika Corea, who have a son with the condition, is now a platform used by parents, carers and people living with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome to encourage awareness and action on the issues.
The event, which now takes place globally, is also known as the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Those who have sent good wishes for the occasion include the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the Opposition Leader, David Cameron and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Lee Scott MP tabled an early day motion in parliament to mark Autism Sunday 2010.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder which typically affects a person’s ability to communicate, engage in social interactions, and respond imaginatively to the environment in which they live. There are over half a million people in the UK with the condition. Many are highly intelligent and creative.
While all people with autism share the three main areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in very different ways. Some are able to live relatively 'everyday' lives; others will require a lifetime of specialist support. Asperger's syndrome is one of the forms of autism.
There are over 60 million people living with autism around the world.