Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stressed the necessity on creating education systems for children with autism and neurological disorders as they need specific educational intervention.
Her remarks came on Wednesday while inaugurating the three-day ‘International Conference on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders’ in Bhutan.
Addressing the audience at Royal Entertainment Hall in capital Thimphu, she said children with special needs deserve to live in dignity and be loved.
"Incorporating disability and autism into the mainstream national developmental agenda is one of our priority areas. We have integrated it in the National 7th Five Year Plan for 2016-2021.
"For the first time, our nation-wide census has included information on persons living with disabilities including autism. We have taken a number of legislative, social and medical initiatives to address the issue of autism," said Hasina, according to bdnews24.com.
Alongside her discussion on the need for specific education systems that cater to the needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopment disorders (NDD), the prime minister also spoke on the importance of providing appropriate employment opportunities to ASD and NDD adults.
Though many countries had pledged to tackle these challenges, the international community has not been able to develop guidelines for the work and that has hampered progress on the issue, she said.
“Without a systematic framework designed in keeping with current scientific research on autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, service delivery models cannot be effective, financially feasible, or sustainable in the long run.”
Lack of access to finance, validation and adaptation of necessary tools and scarcity of skilled health workers hamper the effort to provide adequate service for those in need, the prime minister said.
Hasina also pointed to the lack of reliable, culturally sensitive and evidence-based data on intervention programs as another major obstacle.
The prime minister concluded her speech with a call to action, urging governments to do more for those with neurological disorders.
“No matter where on the spectrum they are, they all deserve to live with dignity and be loved by people around them … Government policies must ensure that no individual is neglected … It is our responsibility to ensure that adequate social and medical support is available for these individuals in all aspects of their lives, from education to employment.”
The World Health Organization estimates that one in 160 people around the world have autism spectrum disorder. Studies over the past 50 years suggest it may be one of the fastest growing among serious developmental disabilities.