An international campaign to raise awareness of autism will see a number of landmarks illuminated with blue lights tonight. 

In Ireland, Galway will be the focus of World Autism Awareness Day, when a number of traditional hookers will be lit up in the Claddagh basin.

Chairperson of Galway Autism Partnership Miriam Jennings said the group is hoping the event will draw attention to the needs of people with the condition and help to encourage discussion and greater understanding. 

She said the way in which people talk about autism has changed for the better in recent years. 

She said the issue is "not the taboo" it used to be and that great strides have been made in terms of acceptance and interaction.

Ms Jennings said this has broken down barriers and improved the lives of people with the condition and their families.  

The Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway has appealed to those families to assist in a detailed study it has undertaken.

As part of its research, the Centre is developing a registry and biobank. 

It hopes this will assist future policy direction and help to focus services in a way that provide maximum benefit for people with autism. 

The study is examining a range of topics, including the impact of early interventions, factors that assist in school and after school life and the way in which planned transitions can enhance service delivery for people with autism.

Recent research from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated one in 68 children, including one in 42 boys, has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.