Amit Ramkumar with his Guinness certificate. The UAE is a shining model for other countries when it comes to supporting people with autism.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Indian national Amit Ramkumar, a 13-year-old autistic boy studying in Grade 8, broke the Guinness World Record for the largest magnet number, by forming a 2D image of the number '44' using 44,000 magnets. His father Ramkumar Sarangapani, who currently has 18 Guinness World Records to his credit, said "The number 44 has a huge significance since as per the latest statistics from the USA, one in every 44 children being born is diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), which was 1 in 150 in the year 2000.
This is a staggering increase of 340%. By creating this world record my son is only trying to bring people’s attention to this fact and create widespread awareness. As far as the Middle East is concerned, UAE stands second, after Qatar with the rate of children born with the disorder.” Stating further, he added "April is celebrated worldwide as 'Autism Acceptance Month', and we thought it would be great to prove to the world that even an autistic person can do wonders if the society provides the right opportunity.
We are looking for more inclusivity, acceptance and understanding from the community so equal opportunities are given to everyone.” This record was attempted in Primus Private School, Dubai, where he is a student of Grade 8. Sangeetha Ajesh, Head of the SEN department at Amit’s school says, "School plays a major role in giving opportunities for the autistic kids, as these kids have difficulties in socialising with people and school is the only place where they can overcome such difficulties.
Amit has been studying at Primus School since KG & the school has been supporting him throughout to overcome the learning barriers and dream big. Primus is proud of Amit's achievement.” Amit’s mother Mahalakshmi Sankaran recalls, "Amit was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. He being a single child, the world turned upside down for us when we found this, but we never gave up. He underwent ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) therapy for 8 years and continuous support from the school has made him achieve wonders.”
She also added, "Amit possesses a rare savant ability of extraordinary memory. In a split second he can say which dress his dad was wearing on a particular day when he was in Grade 1. He knows all the birthdays of the people he came across in his life. His memory database already has 500+ birthdays and still expanding. Moreover, his memory skills are extended to many more activities." An autistic savant is someone with autism who also has a single extraordinary area of knowledge or ability.
Talking about savant skills, Ramkumar says, "Approximately, one in 10 people with ASD possess savant skills. It is estimated that one in a million of the total population are savants and almost half of them are autistic." He further says, "UAE stands as an example for other countries when it comes to supporting people with autism. The Government has set up autism centres in each Emirate and the Ministry of Community Development provides POD cards for autistic people which comes with tonnes of benefits.
They also introduced 'The National Policy for Autism' to support and empower persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their parents of all ages. We are happy to be living in a country which truly believes in creating an inclusive society." "Autistic children face social and communication difficulties, but on the positive side, they are also unique and gifted.
They rarely tell lies, strongly adhere to rules, are precise and detail-oriented, plus they don't judge people, don't have hidden agendas and are very passionate," added Meera Ramani, Founder of Behaviour Enrichment, a special education school based in Dubai, which has been part of Amit’s journey.
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