The annual observance of World Autism Awareness Day should spur global action to combat the “unacceptable” discrimination, abuse and isolation that people with the disorder and their loved ones face, according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“Autism is not limited to a single region or a country; it is a worldwide challenge that requires global action,” states Mr. Ban’s message for the Day, observed annually on 2 April. “People with autism are equal citizens who should enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
In his message, Mr. Ban notes that although developmental disabilities such as autism begin in childhood, they persist throughout a person’s life.
“Our work with and for people with autism should not be limited to early identification and treatment; it should include therapies, educational plans and other steps that lead us towards sustained, lifelong engagement,” he states. “Reaching out to people with autism spectrum disorders requires global political commitment and better international cooperation, especially in sharing good practices.”
He stresses the need for greater investments in the social, education and labour sectors, since developed and developing countries alike still need to improve their capacities to address the unique needs of people with autism and cultivate their talents.
“We also need to promote further research, train non-specialized care providers, and enable the autism community to more easily navigate care systems to obtain services that can support and mainstream individuals with autism,” the Secretary-General says in his message.