During April, the World War II-era aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point will turn blue in support of autism awareness.

In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly designated April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day. That’s the first day the Yorktown will join other landmarks around the globe in “Light It Up Blue,” a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month.

“Patriots Point is proud to support this important initiative, which shines light a disability that affects millions of people around the world and one of every 88 children in the United States,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette. “Although there is no medical detection or cure for autism, early diagnosis and intervention can improve outcomes. We’re proud to do our part to help raise awareness.”

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders — autism spectrum disorders — caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences.

According to Autism Speaks, an international autism science and advocacy organization, a new case of autism is diagnosed every 15 minutes, making it the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. In fact, more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.