World Autism Awareness Day

Autism has traditionally found little recognition in mainstream society. Though public awareness is growing, many around the world remain ignorant of it.

all Member States agreed to stand in solidarity with autistic individuals and to support all actions affirming the fundamental freedoms and human rights of everyone. I would like to acknowledge the role of the State of Qatar, in particular the leadership of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani in bringing awareness to autism.

I have always supported humanitarian causes and have been an avid advocate for acceptance, inclusion and mutual respect. Furthermore, the cause of raising the level of consciousness when it comes to autism has always been a priority for me especially in my own country Macedonia, where I have made a donation and supported the Centre for Children with Autism in Skopje.

Many children with autism are subject to social prejudice and discrimination, and experience ostracizing because even today in our technologically advanced and developing world, we are unwilling to accept and celebrate difference. We need to break such stereotypes and embrace diversity. By shining a light on autism we can increase our awareness; improve early diagnosis and ensure that the scale of the problem is matched by adequate amounts of funding and research in this area.

There is yet another side. Around the world an increasingly visible and highly networked community of autistics is emerging – benefiting from the internet and innovations like type-to-speak software. Some autistics are now leading a nascent civil rights movement calling for their uniqueness recognized - that autistic persons are not damaged. Not dysfunctional but beautiful and unique. We need to encourage and support such networks that propagate social inclusion and bring awareness to autism.

Today, on World Autism Awareness Day we need to make sure this message finds a place to grow in our hearts, minds and in society at large.

2 April 2016