NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – At least two New York City towers are being lit blue to mark World Autism Awareness Day.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story

Former NBC chairman Bob Wright and his wife Suzanne, who founded the charity Autism Speaks after their grandson was diagnosed, flipped the switch to light the Empire State Building in blue on Monday.

“It shines a very bright spotlight on the global epidemic of autism and that is the color of our pin,” said Suzanne Wright.

New CDC figures place 1 in 88 kids on the autism spectrum. It aflicts 1 in every 54 boys.

“This is huge numbers. It’s just enormous numbers, and the parents bear the cost of this. That’s not true in any other disease or condition,” said Bob Wright on Monday. “They actually have to write all the checks.

Early diagnosis is key, but even with that, Wright says many parents can’t afford services.

“And these things can be addressed. They can’t be eliminated, but they can be moderated,” Wright said.

In addition to the Empire State Building, the control tower at JFK Airport and many other buildings around the world will be lit in blue tonight.

The United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day five years ago to bring attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions of people.  Three years ago, Autism Speaks – the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization – launched “Light It Up Blue” under which iconic landmarks around the world will be lit blue in support of efforts to find the cause, as well as prevention and treatments for autism.

“Autism touches dozens of our own employees as well as thousands of people who use our facilities every day,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. “Lighting the JFK tower blue is a small token to show our support for the efforts that are under way to find a cure.”

“As the parent of an autistic child, I know firsthand the difficulties and challenges faced each day by thousands of parents in similar situations in New York,” said Port Authority Commissioner Jeffrey Lynford.  “I’m pleased that the Port Authority continues to show its strong support for our cause and the causes of many worthwhile groups throughout the region by lighting our facilities to honor their work.”

Are you doing something to bring attention to autism? Please share your story in the comments section below!

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