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Global Response Needed To Raise The Awareness About Autism

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21 2012 (IPS) - Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, hosted a special high level event Monday to raise awareness of autism and developmental disabilities.

The event was aimed at garnering support for an upcoming UN Resolution that addresses socio-economic needs of individuals, families and societies affected by autism spectrum disorders, development disorders and associated disabilities.

The event was marked by a special performance by students both with and without autism from The Child’s School / Legacy High School Chorus.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neuro developmental disorder, characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication. Due to the complexity of the manifestation of ASD and lack of any known cure, treatment for the illness requires a multidimensional and multidisciplinary approach.

“ASD and developmental disorders transcend geographic, economic and cultural boundaries”, Dr. Momen said, highlighting the necessity for international awareness.

ASD is the fastest growing serious developmental disability. It’s estimated that 1% of the world’s population is affected by autism.

Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly, who has expressed strong support for the resolution, said autism as a “truly global health issue” that “strikes indiscriminately.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Jeremic announced a High-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development, on September 23, 2013. The event is to be called “The Way Forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.”

“It is clear that knowledge is growing in certain parts of the world, the same cannot be said for many developing countries. I strongly believe that we need to act on this awareness gap,” Jeremic said.

The Assembly President noted that doctors now believe that one in every 2000 children suffer from the illness, much higher than previously thought. Paradoxically, autism receives less than 5% of the research funding.

The draft resolution aims at encouraging Member States to take measures to raise awareness in the society and at the family scale as well. It calls upon the governments to strengthen their mental health services and urges them to meet the needs of people with developmental disorders and autism.

Jeremic said he firmly believes that Bangladesh’s resolution will advance the interests and well being of autistic individuals and their families.

He expressed his support for a coordinated global response to autism, and noted the importance of focusing not only on awareness-raising, but also on building the capacity to offer appropriate services to autistic persons.

“It is my hope that the General Assembly, through the draft resolution as well as the subsequent high-level meeting, will become a true advocate for the rights of those suffering from autism”, Jeremic concluded.

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