Talking points by UNICEF Iran Representative on World Autism Day 2012
© UNICEF Iran
- Today on the occasion of the World Autism Awareness Day 2 April 2012, UNICEF Iran is pleased to welcome and host an Iranian family from Tabriz, North West of the country, making efforts to raise public awareness on autism. Their campaign of traveling around Iran together with their 10 year-old daughter Mahdieh with autistic conditions to raise public awareness should be appreciated.
- As we know, Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the early years of childhood and that has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies. It is estimated that 35 to 67 million people live with autism around the world.
- Children and persons with autistic conditions often lack adequate support and have limited access to services such as schools and health care. They also face major challenges associated with stigma and discrimination and suffer from abuse and isolation, in violation of their fundamental human rights.
- This is why the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from this disorder.
- This Day also falls under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which entered into force in 2008, reaffirming the fundamental principle of universal human rights.
- The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first treaty focusing exclusively on disability rights. The Convention offers a framework to ensure that children with disabilities have equal access to, and are included in, schools, health services and community life. It provides UNICEF and its partners with a powerful platform to mobilize policy makers, practitioners, families and communities around an agenda for inclusion.
- I would like to reemphasize our support in promoting early intervention. Existing services such as the IECD centres supported by UNICEF should be used for early detection and intervention which is very important in health, education and social welfare of children with autistic conditions.
- Children with, or at risk of developing, intellectual disabilities should be identified at the earliest possible stage through maternal welfare and screening programmes and channelled towards services providing early intervention, preschool education, day care and community health initiatives.