The 11st World Autism Awareness Day is being observed in Bangladesh as elsewhere across the world in order to raise awareness about autism, a development disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment.
There is no known specific cause of autism, however, researchers suggest that autism develops from a combination of genetic and non-genetic or environmental influences. It develops at the early stage of child life and management is the only option so far.
The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared Apr 2 as the World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the needs for helping improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder. This year the theme of the day is "Empowering Women and Girls with Autism".
Autism, an ignored public health issue, came to the forefront in Bangladesh after Saima Wazed Putul, daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a school psychologist, launched campaign on it in 2007. Saima also received recognition from the World Health Organization for her great endeavour on a neglected public health issue. Saima has also been awarded by the WHO and she has been continuing her efforts to address autism nationally and globally.
A significant number of children in Bangladesh also suffer from autism, and steps have already been taken to raise awareness about it among parents, families, and in society. Facilities have also been established for their treatment and management locally.
An autism centre was established at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in 2010, which is now dubbed as Institute of Pediatric Neurology and Autism. This centre and other initiatives of the government already changed social negative perception about autism while motivated people to see it emphatically.
President Md. Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina conveyed separate messages on the eve of the day where they urged all, including the local and foreign organizations, to come forward along with the government for the welfare of the disabled persons specially empowered women and girls with autism, reports BSS.
The ministry of Social Welfare, Social Welfare Department, National Disability Development Foundation, IPNA, National Disability Forum and different socio-cultural bodies and non-government organizations have chalked out an elaborate programme to observe the day in a befitting manner.
The PM is expected to join a discussion scheduled to be held at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) in city's Agaorgaon area in the morning marking the Day.
Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and private TV channels and radio stations will air special programmes, while newspapers will publish special supplements highlighting the significance of the day. Road islands will be decorated with banners, festoons and placards, local media reports said.