Stand by people with autism to unfold their talents: PM

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Dhaka, Apr 02: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday described the people with autism as an integral part of society, calling upon all to stand beside them to unfold their hidden talents.“Don’t neglect the people with autism. The are an integral part of our society,” she said.

The premier was speaking at the inaugural function of the 11th World Autism Awareness Day at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre here this morning.

She said they have numerous talents which are absent among the many people with sound health. “We’ll have to create a scope for them to flourish those talents,” she added.

Pointing out that autism is not a birth defect; she said the Almighty Allah has created human beings in different ways.

“So, it’s not proper to treat the people with autism in the eyes of negligence…building up social awareness about this is very much needed,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said the people will have to change their mindset in this regard. “They’ll have to be more sensitive and sympathetic towards the people with autism. They will have to take them close through love and affection,” she said.

The prime minister expressed her firm belief that the people with autism spectrum disorder will bring immense potentials by becoming self-reliant if they get coordinated initiatives and favourable environment.

“So, let’s come to stand beside the children and other persons with autism,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the autism is now not a new issue in society as the number of people with autism is increasing day by day.

She added: “Our government has been implementing special programmes on the children and persons with autism.”

Putting emphasis on inclusive education for the children with disabilities, the prime minister said they should be given scope to pursue study with the general students.

Sheikh Hasina said the tender-hearted children with autism disorder could be turned into a “valuable asset” if they are given special care by keeping their special demands in mind.

The premier said: “We cannot keep the people with disabilities or autism away and the negative attitude of the society towards them is a big obstacle to this end.”

Due to this outlook, she said, the people with disabilities become victims of disparity and ignorance from the beginning of their life. This mindset will have to be changed through creating mass awareness, she opined.The premier said Saima Wazed got the recognition of Autism Champion of South Asia of the World Health Organisation for her special contributions to autism awareness and public health.

Referring to a resolution adopted in the United Nation General Assembly unanimously, she said Saima had a very strong and active role in this regard.

She said Saima has been brightening Bangladesh’s image in the international arena as the president of an international jury board and as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health.

The prime minister said her government has constituted Suchona Foundation with Saima Wazed as its chairperson.

“Our goal is to create awareness among the guardians, parents and other members of the society about autism,” she said.

The Ministry of Social Affairs arranged the function with Social Affairs Minister Rashed Khan Menon in the chair.

Health Minister Mohammad Nasim, State Minister for Social Affairs Nuruzzaman Ahmed and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs Dr Mozammel Hossain also spoke as the special guests, while Social Affairs Secretary Zillar Rahman delivered the welcome address.

On behalf of the children with autism, Isaba Hafiz Sushmi, a class nine student of a school in the capital, also addressed the function.