UN chief marks Autism Awareness Day with call for greater support to those affected

Photo: CARE/David Rochkind, Design: Kim Conger

1 April 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for increased support for children and adults with autism and their families, saying public awareness about the condition remains low, with those affected suffering discrimination, abuse, isolation and violation of their fundamental rights.

“Children and persons with autistic conditions face major challenges associated with stigma and discrimination, as well as a lack of access to support. Many struggle with multiple barriers in their daily lives,” Mr. Ban said in a message to mark the World Autism Awareness Day, which will be observed tomorrow.

The United NationsTogether, let us travel this road toward a more caring and inclusive world chief executive said that the number of children and people with autistic conditions continues to rise in all countries and racial, ethnic and social groups, but awareness remained low despite the recognition of autistic conditions among the scientific, health and care communities.

Mr. Ban described the annual observance of World Autism Awareness Day as an “opportunity to mobilize for action and assistance.”

“Autism is a complex disorder. But in many cases the right treatment early on can bring improvements. That is why it is so important to raise awareness about the signs of autism and provide services as soon as possible,” added Mr. Ban.

He spoke of the need to support parents, create jobs for individuals with autism based on their skills and strengths, and improve public education to better meet the needs of students with autism. Such steps can benefit society and enrich the lives of people with autism and their loved ones.

Mr. Ban highlighted a remark by a mother of a child with autism who said: “Although my daughter has walked a long way, I have walked a longer way.”

“Together, let us travel this road toward a more caring and inclusive world,” the Secretary-General added.


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