Health Desk--2nd April, 2017: The 10th World Autism Awareness Day is being observed in the country on Sunday as elsewhere across the world with an aim to raise awareness through events and raise funds for autism.
There is no known specific cause of autism but 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.
Autism 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 early 2007.
Saima also received recognition from the World Health Organization for her great endeavour on a neglected public health issue. A significant number of children of Bangladesh also suffer from autism, a neuro-development disorder, 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.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have given separate messages for this year's awareness day hoping that the day's observation would help build further awareness on autism and improve the condition of autistic children.
Abdul Hamid said autistic children have the equal rights and privileges as well as abilities to grow and contribute to society. These children, he said, could be turned into skilled manpower provided they were given due attention to unfold their potentials.
The President said autistic people have made enourmous contribution to the civilization and their contributions were recognized worldwide. Like the other parts of the world, he said, children with autism spectrum disorder have great potentials in Bangladesh as well.
In this context, Abdul Hamid called upon parents, NGOs, philanthropists and individuals to come forward and support children with autism, help them unfold their creativity and make them inseparable part of society and national development.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her message thanked all persons involved in the cause of autism and said she felt proud of her daughter, Saima Wazed Putul, who made tremendous efforts to bring smiles on the faces of autistic children and their families. Sheikh Hasina, who herself also offered great patronage to autism, said the issue was completely unknown and unattended in Bangladesh. With Saima taking the lead, she said, it has become a known health issue now in the country. Saima has also been awarded by the World Health Organization and she has been continuing her efforts to address autism nationally and globally.
The Prime Minister said an autism centre was established at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in 2010, which is now dubbed as Institute of Pediatric Neurology and Autism (IPNA). This centre and other initiatives of the government already changed social negative perception about autism while motivated people to see it emphatically.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to inaugurate the main programme of the World Autism Awareness Day at Osmani Memorial Hall on Monday afternoon.
The BSMMU in a press release said they organized an art competition for the children with autism on its campus in the capital on Sunday.
Bangladesh Shishu Academy has also taken up a separate programme to hold a cultural function, where children with autism will perform dance, sing songs and recite poems on Monday afternoon.