Kuwait celebrates World Autism Awareness Day

KUWAIT: The Kuwait-based Gulf Autism Union (GAU) yesterday marked World Autism Awareness Day 2010 with a number of activities directed towards raising awareness of the condition in society.

Dr. Samira Al-Saad, the founder and director of the Kuwait Center for Autism and a GAU member, revealed that promotional literature had been distributed at local schools and in the media to publicize the event, explaining that this was intended to raise awareness among the people of Kuwait and the Gulf of autism and the services offered by these organizations since the 1990s.

She said that she was pleased at the increasing public awareness of autism, adding that the Public Awqaf Foundation was a pioneer in supporting people with autism through constructing the center’s building, which has become one of the country’s landmarks.

The center, with its unique design, accommodates the needs of people with autism, and houses researchers conducting investigation into the genetic condition and how best to treat it, she explained. Al-Saad praised the young people, university students, and doctors participating in the volunteer group which supports the center’s activities.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday urged societies to re-evaluate their negative attitudes towards people living with disabilities, such as autism, and eradicate prejudices that discriminate against them.

Marking World Autism Awareness Day, which fell yesterday Ban expressed regret that children and adults with autism, as well as those living with other disabilities, face a “double burden. In addition to the daily challenges of their disability, they must also cope with the negative attitudes of society, inadequate support for their needs and, in some cases, blatant discrimination.

He continued, “As we commemorate World Autism Awareness Day 2010…let us join persons with autism, their families and their advocates in a community of voices for greater awareness and understanding. Let us also look within, and re-evaluate our attitudes and those of our societies so we can remove the prejudices that discriminate against persons with disabilities. Let us dedicate ourselves to creating a fair and caring society that affords true dignity and rights for All.”