"My autism is part of who I am, not all of who I am. I rely on you. Be my guide, my champion, love me for who I am, and we'll see how far I can go."
Every child born into this world is special, including the child born with autism. Like all children, boys and girls diagnosed with autism have the right to a childhood - the right to proper healthcare, to go to school, to play and to be protected from violence.
Like all children, children with autism have their own unique qualities, personalities, talents and abilities. These include honesty, memory and math skills, three-dimensional thinking, musical and artistic abilities, and the ability to intensely focus on an interest.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life, and has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies. While an estimated 35 to 67 million people live with autism around the world, children with autistic conditions often lack adequate support and have limited access to services such as schools and health care. They also face discrimination and suffer from abuse and isolation.
To mark World Autism Awareness Day 2013, let's send a clear message to children with autism and their families: You will not be forgotten, you will not be overlooked, you count. Let's match our efforts to the strength of children everywhere, and measure our results against their dreams. Children do not accept unnecessary limits, and neither should we.
By building an equitable, just and inclusive world that is free from any form of discrimination, we can ensure that every child will be able to realise their full potential and lead a meaningful life.