Autism is a life-long brain disorder that is normally diagnosed in early childhood. People with autism have difficulties communicating, forming relationships with others and find it hard to make sense of the world around them. Autism is a spectrum disorder varying in severity and impact from individual to individual, ranging from those with no speech and severe learning disabilities to people with IQs in the average range who are able to hold down a job or start a family. People with autism may also have unusual patterns of language development, narrow interests and engage in repetitive and sometimes challenging behaviors. Autism spectrum disorder includes Autism, Aspergers syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder. However Asperger’s Syndrome is a form of autism in which speech development and IQ are normal, but in which social disability can be compounded by depression and mental health problems. Some people with autism demonstrate significantly challenging behavior; most need specialist support and care. Autism affects people of all racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
Autism and Bangladesh
The identification and treatment of children with Autism in Bangladesh was confined to a few Medical College Hospitals and Post Graduate Institutes. Even doctors were not aware of the clinical features of Autism and its management and sometimes cannot understand the disorder. The services for children with Autism was visually reflected from 1990 in Dhaka Shishu Hospital and other hospitals and subsequently many other organizations like the Society for the Welfare of Autistic Children (SWAC), Autistic Welfare Foundation (AWF), PROYASH and others came forward with their activities for autistic children from the year 2000 and onward .With the establishment of the Centre for Neurodevelopment & Autism in children in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University awareness for Autism was boosted in Bangladesh. Recent International Conference in Bangladesh on Autism Spectrum Disorders and developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia held in Dhaka on 25-29 July gave a new direction to the awareness, research and services for autistic children. Now the National Advisory Committee on Autism has been formed with Saima Hossain Putul as chairperson, and four Task Forces are working under her leadership, and activities on Autism has gained momentum in Bangladesh. Bangladesh can make a big impact on Autism over the globe.
Due to lack of trained professionals we are unable to reach autistic children. They don’t have easy access to a tertiary level hospital. Not all doctors at Upazila and district level are educated on autism. So misdiagnosis and mistreatment still occurs.
Another challenge that has to be overcome is in education. Autistic children have difficulties entering normal schools, even if they are capable intellectually and have relatively “good” behavior. Most schools are reluctant to have autistic students, they foresee many difficulties in handling and teaching autistic children.
There are no curriculums for training of teachers of autistic children, by government and private institutions. Even there is no facility for short-term training for teachers of autistic children. Late diagnosis of autism in children occurs due to poor awareness regarding autism among many doctors. And even of those doctors screening children with autism, many do not know to whom to refer their patients.
Initiatives Taken by Saima Wazed Putul
Saima Wazed Putul has stressed for a special fund to ensure education of children with autism. She made the observation while speaking with former British Prime Minister and also a special UN envoy on education, Gordon Brown, on a conference in Washington DC.
The Bangladesh government has taken a lot of initiatives for the welfare of children with autism, Putul, who spearheads autism campaign in Bangladesh, told Brown. Now the donors should stand by those initiatives, Putul added.
“We take our international commitments very seriously.”
Putul told the UN panel discussion that the Bangladesh government had as part of its plans the inclusion and integration of those with autism in national development efforts.
“It has been made mandatory for all early childhood centers to include at least two children with disabilities each. The Ministry of Education has also set up a National Autism and NDD Academy.”
“The National Theatre has taken a decision to allow and encourage youth with autism to participate in their regular productions.”
Putul, who also chairs the National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorders, spoke of Sheikh Hasina’s commitment in ensuring the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
‘Don’t just call anyone autistic’. “The term ‘autism’ has become so familiar that we use it indiscriminately. I request you not to call anyone autistic that easily. It is a complex neurological development disorder. It affects not only the individual but the entire family as well. The autistic should be included in the development process so that “they can consider themselves part of our country, so that they do not feel themselves left out”.
WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY
World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), celebrated each year on April 2, was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. Autism is one of only three health issues to be recognized with its own day by the United Nations. WAAD activities increase world knowledge of autism and impart information about the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism around the world.
Initiative Taken by United Nations
On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/139, tabled by the State of Qatar, which declares April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) in perpetuity. Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, supported the campaign for a World Autism Awareness Day through the current 62nd UN General Assembly Session, garnering consensus support from all United Nations Member States.
This UN resolution declares WAAD as one of only four official health-specific United Nations Days and will bring the world’s attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions. The World Autism Awareness Day resolution encourages all Member States to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout society and to encourage early diagnosis and early intervention. It further expresses deep concern at the prevalence and high rate of autism in children in all regions of the world and the consequent developmental challenges.
World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health issue. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.
By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, we will give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help. Please join us in our effort to inspire compassion, empowerment and hope.
World Autism Awareness Day was established on December 18, 2007 by the states, a dedication to raising awareness of Autism in the general
Source: The Independent/ autismspeaks.org