World Autism Awareness Day tomorrow

DHAKA, The 12th World Autism Awareness Day will be observed in the country as elsewhere in the globe tomorrow with a renewed pledge to bring the people suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other Neuro developmental Disabilities (NDDs) into the mainstream of development.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Social Welfare Department, National Disability Development Foundation, National Disability Forum and different socio cultural bodies and nongovernment organizations have chalked out elaborate programmes to observe the day in a befitting manner.

The theme of the Day this year is Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to join a discussion scheduled to be held in city's Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) tomorrow at 10.30 marking the Day, among others, said a press release.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque and State Minister for Social Welfare Ministry Sharif Ahmed would be present.

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as the World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the needs for helping improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder.

President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave separate messages on the eve of the day where they urged all, including the local and foreign organizations, to come forward along with the government for the welfare of the disabled.

In his message, M Abdul Hamid said autistic children have the equal rights and privileges as well as abilities to grow and contribute to society.

These children, he said, could be turned into skilled manpower if public sector comes forward to help them along with the government to unfold their potentials.

The President said autistic people have made enormous contribution to the civilization and their contributions were recognized worldwide. Like the other parts of the world, he said, children with autism spectrum disorder have great potentials in Bangladesh as well.

In this context, M Abdul Hamid called upon parents, NGOs, philanthropists and individuals to come forward and support children with autism, help them unfold their creativity and make them inseparable part of society and national development.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her message, thanked all persons involved in the cause of autism and said she felt proud of her daughter, Saima Wazed Putul, who made tremendous efforts to bring smiles on the faces of autistic children and their families.

Sheikh Hasina, who herself also offered great patronage to autism, said the issue was completely unknown and unattended in Bangladesh. With Saima taking the lead, she said, it has become a known health issue now in the country.

Saima has also been awarded by the World Health Organization and she has been continuing her efforts to address autism nationally and globally.

The Prime Minister said an autism centre was established at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in 2010, which is now dubbed as Institute of Pediatric Neurology and Autism (IPNA).

This centre and other initiatives of the government already changed social negative perception about autism while motivated people to see it emphatically, she added.

The Prime Minister also hoped that the children with autism, if given proper affection, attention and scopes, would turn into national resources instead of becoming socalled burden. She also urged all concerned to do their best for the betterment of the lives of such children.

They wished all success of the Day.

Social Welfare Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed today at a briefing said, the government offices and major installations of the country would be illuminated with blue colored light for three days from tomorrow.

Department of Social Services and Bangladesh Protibondhi Foundation (BPF) would be illuminated with the light for 15 days, he said.

BTV, Bangladesh Betar and private TV channels and radio stations will air special programmes, while newspapers will publish special supplements highlighting the significance of the Day.

Road islands will be decorated with banners, festoons and placards.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)