What is autism, stigma, theme, UN’s message

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This year marks the 15th annual World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations General Assembly unanimously had declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.

What is Autism? 

Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status. The term Autism Spectrum refers to a range of characteristics. 

Appropriate support, accommodation and acceptance of this neurological variation allow those on the spectrum to enjoy equal opportunity, and full and effective participation in society, the United Nations says.

Characteristics of autism:-

Autism is mainly characterised by its unique social interactions, non-standard ways of learning, keen interests in specific subjects, inclination to routines, challenges in typical communications and particular ways of processing sensory information.

The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and the lack of understanding has a tremendous impact on the individuals, their families and communities, the UN says.

Stigma attached to autism:-

The stigmatisation and discrimination associated with neurological differences remain substantial obstacles to diagnosis and therapies, an issue that must be addressed by both public policy-makers in developing nations, as well as donor countries.

UN Sec Gen’s message on Autism Day:-

In his message on the World Autism Day, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these inequalities through the loss or reduction of services at school, in homes and in the community. 

“We need to ensure that the rights, perspectives and well-being of persons with disabilities, including those with autism, are an integral part of building forward better from the pandemic,” Guterres said.

Theme of World Autism Day:-

This year’s observance of the World Autism Day will address inclusive education through a virtual event that will include a moderated panel discussion, along with brief presentations by self-advocates, educators and other experts.

The theme of inclusive education is intrinsically linked with the focus of last year’s WAAD observance, “Inclusion in the Workplace”. 

Panelists in last year’s event emphasised how crucial it is to foster inclusive quality education for people on the autism spectrum so that they can fulfill their potential and achieve sustainable success in the labour market.

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