UN head’s call on autism noteworthy - GulfToday

UN head’s call on autism noteworthy


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The United Nations chief’s clarion call to tap the potential of those with autism should be taken note of. Building a more inclusive and accessible world that recognises the contribution of all people, including persons with disabilities, must be a “key goal” as countries work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday, commemorating World Autism Awareness Day.

“The crisis has created new obstacles and challenges. But efforts to reignite the global economy offer an opportunity to reimagine the workplace to make diversity, inclusion and equity a reality,” Guterres said.

“Recovery is also a chance to rethink our systems of education and training to ensure that persons with autism are afforded opportunities for realising their potential,” he added. Guterres also stressed that breaking old habits will be crucial. For persons with autism, he added, access to decent work on an equal basis requires creating an enabling environment, along with reasonable accommodation.

The UAE’s contribution in this regard is in no small measure. The nation is a pathbreaking and exemplary model in catering for and providing full-frontal support to the differently-abled, particularly autistic children. It is a shining beacon for its all-pervasive inclusive policy, enabling those with disabilities to feel wanted and better.

On the occasion of the annual World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April, Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, wife of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Honorary President of the Emirates Autism Society, said, “The country’s key objective is to support people of determination, as well as reinforce their capacities, empower them, and fully integrate them into the labour market.”

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, ASD, refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities unique to the individual that are carried out repetitively. According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, it is estimated that 1 in 160 children has an ASD worldwide.

On December 3, the UAE observed the International Day of People with Disabilities, IDPD.

The UAE’s leadership and government have protected and empowered people of determination, including from the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic.

The country provides them with health, education and food services, and for their other needs, and prioritises them in terms of services and health, such as enabling them to perform home medical tests and offering remote education and assessment services, he noted.

At the end of the third quarter of 2020, the number of people of determination in the UAE totalled 25,590, including 14,262 citizens and 11,328 residents. According to the National Classification of People of Determination, impairments, disabilities and handicaps include mental disability, communication disorders, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, specific learning difficulties, visual impairment, hearing impairment, visual and hearing impairment, physical disabilities, and psychosocial disorders.

The ministry’s 20 achievements last year include the launch of a remote learning and rehabilitation system in public and private centres and the adoption of the “People of Determination Education Plan Platform” that benefited 765 students.

The ministry has provided psychological, social and rehabilitation support to the people of determination remotely and even supported initiatives and guidelines that strengthen and support the efforts of teachers and parents in distance rehabilitation remotely such as the Home Schooling Guide for people with intellectual disabilities and autism.

People of determination need a lot of care, compassion and understanding. Loads of patience too are the need of the hour: it helps tackle the challenges of dealing with them. The UAE believes in treating them at par with normal people. This forms the basis of its inclusivity, which does not discriminate against them simply because they are totally different.

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