On World Day, Ban urges renewed efforts to help persons affected by autism realize full potential

Photo: CARE/David Rochkind, Design: Kim Conger

2 April 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked World Autism Awareness Day with a call to action – urging the international community to take part in fostering progress for those affected by autism “by supporting education programmes, employment opportunities and other measures that help realize our shared vision of a more inclusive world.”

“This year’s World Autism Awareness Day is a chance to celebrate the creative minds of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and to renew our pledge to help them realize their great potential,” said Mr. Ban in his message.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and it has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies.

“I treasure my meetings with individuals affected by autism — parents, children, teachers and friends. Their strength is inspiring. They deserve all possible opportunities for education, employment and integration,” the UN Chief said, underscoring that to measure the success of our societies, “we should examine how well those with different abilities, including persons with autism, are integrated as full and valued members.”

Education and employment are key, he continued, explaining that schools connect children to their communities. Jobs connect adults to their societies. Persons with autism deserve to walk the same path. By including children with different learning abilities in mainstream and specialized schools, we can change attitudes and promote respect. By creating suitable jobs for adults with autism, we integrate them into society, he added.

“At this time of economic constraint, Governments should continue to invest in services that benefit persons with autism. When we empower them, we benefit current and future generations,” said the Secretary-General, noting that tragically, in many parts of the world, these individuals are denied their fundamental human rights.

“They battle discrimination and exclusion. Even in places where their rights are secured, too often they still have to fight for basic services,” he said, pointing out in that regard that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides a strong framework for action to create a better world for all.


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