Raising awareness about autism

3 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The World Autism Awareness Day was observed in Bangladesh as elsewhere in the world on Tuesday with a pledge to bring the people suffering from autism and other physical disabilities into the mainstream of society. According to a government estimate the number of autistic people is around 40,000 in Bangladesh.

Sadly, disorders of the brain or mind are less understood in our society. And our inappropriate, better say negative, outlook towards the people suffering from autism or other types of mental illness is the main obstacle to their inclusion in the mainstream society.

So, every year on April 2 the World Autism Awareness Day is observed to highlight the needs for enhanced initiatives of all to improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder. It gives us an opportunity to speak out against discrimination and to celebrate the diversity of our global community.

Autism as a life-long affliction is far from uncommon in this country or anywhere. But it came under public notice late because its nature and prevalence were not completely known to experts. This is equally true of the advanced countries. One difficulty in identifying autism is that the afflicted child is neither normal nor disabled but differs considerably from the normal child in respect of behaviour and brain functioning.

Opinion varies over whether autistic children should be considered disabled or not. What is known for certain is that the autistic child has difficulty interacting with other children and prefers loneliness, is a slow learner and prefers repetitive games and entertainments and in some cases is afraid of loud noises.

Although the disorder is incurable, social behaviour of victims can surely be improved with care and sympathy. It is hoped the government will adopt a policy taking into consideration expert opinion and help to uphold the rights of the autistic children through inclusive education.

Some experts think that autistic children should be encouraged to interact with normal children under normal educational procedure. But the school authorities and teachers should treat them with special care and attention.