UN chief urges empathy for those who suffer from autism

Photo: CARE/David Rochkind, Design: Kim Conger

6 April 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today exhorted the world to empathise with people living with autism, saying the condition was often misunderstood, a factor that can make those affected and their families endure intolerable discrimination.

“Our challenge is to move people from misunderstanding to empathy,” Mr. Ban told a panel discussion on autism at United Nations Headquarters.

“This is a movement – a global movement – that goes beyond people with autism and their families. This is a movement to create a better world for all of us,” he said at the discussion whose theme was “Solving the Autism Public Puzzle: Regional and International Collaboration.”

He stressed the need for concerted effort, sharing experiences on autism and raising funds “to turn workable solutions into practical actions.”

In his message to mark World Autism Awareness Day last Saturday, the Secretary-General called for increased support for children and adults with autism and their families, saying public awareness about the condition remains low.

“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,” he said.


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