World Autism Day: A New Strategy

Shankar Shikdar

2 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day. The view of this Day is to highlight the need how to improve the quality of life of the persons with autism so that they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of the society.

On 1 November 2007 World Autism Awareness Day was passed in council, and adopted on 18 December 2007. The resolution was approved and adopted devoid of a vote in the UN General Assembly, mainly as a supplement to previous UN initiatives to improve human rights. It is one of only seven official health-specific UN Days. The day itself brings individual autism organisations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and overall acceptance for those affected by this developmental disorder.

The 9th Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres says, “On World Autism Awareness Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms.” The theme of this Autism Awareness Day is “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.” The member states of the United Nations are preparing different programmes to observe the day for the people with autism. People on the autism spectrum have all rights to enjoy affordable assistive technologies that can reduce or eliminate the barriers to their participation on an equal basis with others.

The UN Secretary-General launched a new Strategy on New Technologies in September 2018, which aims to define how the United Nations system will support the use of these technologies to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA). The stratagem is also anticipated to facilitate the arrangement of these technologies with the values enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the norms and standards of International Law, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and other human rights conventions. These values include equality and equity, inclusion and transparency.

Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh and member of the WHO's Advisory Panel on Mental Health, Saima Wazed Hossain, said 14 ministries are now working co-ordinately in Bangladesh to ensure rights of the persons with disabilities, especially autism, their access to education, employment and other socio-economic activities. She was addressing as a panellist at a discussion on "Bridging the Inequality Gap (Goal 10 of SDGs)" at the UN while attending the inaugural session of the day-long programme by the UN in observance of the World Autism Awareness Day, according to a message received here from Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.

Bangladesh hosted the first ever international conference on autism in Dhaka in 2011 where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sonia Gandhi of India made statements that created huge positive impact in the region so that people started talking about addressing autism. The rural-based institutions of the 14 ministries, including social services centres, community health clinics, and rural development organisations, have been providing services to the autistic persons and their families. Parental meetings and training, training for doctors and field-level health and social workers, education, etc. are being done in a coordinated way.

The 8th Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon in his video message said the main aim of the SDGs is inclusive development where no one should be left behind. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said these people also deserve the opportunity to flourish and realise their true potential. "Let's not neglect people with autism. They are also a part of our society. They may even be much more talented than normal people. We have to give them the opportunity to be able to live up to their potential, and we have to create a proper space for them in society."

To give the best priority to the people with autism, our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been using the invitation cards drawn by autistic children. It is a great encouragement for the people with autism and an award for them who are working with them.

In the context of the Secretary-General’s Strategy, the 2019 World Autism Awareness Day observance at UN Headquarters in New York will focus on leveraging the use of assistive technologies for persons with autism as a tool in removing the barriers to their full social, economic and political participation in society, and in promoting equality, equity and inclusion. Topics to be addressed through discussions with self-advocates and experts include:

•             The Internet and digital communities: Levelling the playing field

•             Independent living: Smart home technology and more

•             Education and employment: Communication and executive functioning

•             Telemedicine: Opening the doors to healthcare

•             The right to be heard: Political participation and advocacy.

All the people of the society are responsible to manage and rare the children for tomorrow’s world. It does not need any formalities how to provide support to children; it just needs our positive mentality through learning about Autism, getting involved with them, organising or attending events, sharing stories in social media, spending time with ASD, donating, volunteering, observing special days, wearing blue shirt, promoting their ability, supporting autism-friendly business, increasing their confidence and much more. 

Good parenting is a matter to manage children with autism. Apart from teachers, therapists and physicians, parents as the best supporters could help children with autism, focus on the positive, stay consistent and on schedule, put play on the schedule, give it time, take your child along for everyday activities, get support, look into respite care, rejoice in their strength, repair and support cells and cycles, build better brain health, calm brain chaos, join your child’s world, love, rejoice and make breakthroughs, lead the revolution, do it for yourself, your next baby, your family, and your world.


The writer is a Counsellor for School Social Work and Executive Director at William Shakespeare Academy. Email: [email protected]