It should be ensured that autistic children are given dignity and respect, said the Congress President Sonia Gandhi while addressing a conference on ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia’ that began on July 25 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Ever keen to help those anguished in grief she said,” Society should pay greater attention to autistic persons.” If society nurtures them (autistic people), it will get back much in return, Sonia Gandhi said “There is much of it (autism) that we still do not understand. She said science has been conducting research work in this field over the last seventy years but had not found clear answers or explanations for its causes.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment.
The disorder appears during infancy and symptoms become clear before the age of three. Only proper care, education and socialization can help them communicate better.
Such children with their special type of brain disorder, unlike others, cannot pick up self-care tasks – dressing, self-feeding, using toilet and others – by watching and imitating.
She said such disabled children do not need only food, education and shelter, but “to be recognized as persons
This was the first-ever international conference on autism in the region. The opening ceremony for the conference started with a colorful cultural show rendered by the autistic children.
The Congress President also happens to be the chief patron of India-based Action for Autism. She expressed hope that the conference would be a ‘landmark journey together’, in which ‘the South Asian Autism Network will play a vibrant role.’
In her address she highlighted that autism presented an enormous challenge to our region.
She said the developing countries of Asia must focus on the preventive interventions that have been found effective and relevant to the regional context.
The empowerment of parents, vocational trainings of autistics children and creating research institutions could be other major issues to deal with, she said.
She said it was unfortunate that in South Asian societies the disabled usually do not command the sympathy they deserve.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi paid floral tributes to the martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War at the National Memorial in Savar
She also attended a special ceremony at Bangabhaban where Bangladesh President conferred the highest Bangladesh Freedom award posthumously on former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her outstanding contribution in the Bangladesh Liberation War. Sonia Gandhi received the award on behalf of her mother-in-law, who became victim of militancy in 1984.