Stressing the importance of changing the mentality towards the physically challenged persons, including those with autism, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said these people should get the opportunity to flourish their talent.
"Let's not neglect the people with autism. They're part of society. They might have much more talent than the normal people. We've to give them an opportunity for flourishing their talent and we've to create a nice place for them in society," she said.
The prime minister was addressing a programme at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) marking the 11th World Autism Awareness Day.
Social Welfare Minister Rashed Khan Menon chaired the programme organised by his ministry.
The theme of this year's day is: 'Empowering Women and Girls with Autism'.
Sheikh Hasina said people must change their age-old mentality towards persons with disabilities, including those with autism. "We've to show more sensitivity and sympathy towards them and give them more love and affection for bringing them closer to us. We have to help them so that their hidden talent could be flourished," she said.
Underlining the importance of being more aware of autism, she said all have to stand by people with autism. "It's not their fault. Allah creates people in different ways. So, we shouldn't show negligence to them. Awareness is very much essential."
The prime minister also said the government has taken a number of projects and programmes to make persons with disabilities and autism worthy citizens of the country.
Briefly describing various initiatives, she said in the BCS examination, a one-percent quota has been kept aside for the physically challenged persons while it is 10 percent for class three and four categories of government jobs.
Sheikh Hasina said whatever greeting cards she sends to people on the occasion of different festivals like Eid and new year are prepared by physically challenged children.
She urged the people of all classes and professions to extend their helping hands to flourish the talent of people with disabilities.
Hasina said people had no idea about autism even a few years ago. "The importance and awareness about autism have increased nationally and internationally thanks to tireless efforts of my daughter Saima Wazed."
She said her government, after assuming office in 2009, took massive programmes and started implementing those for creating awareness about autism and welfare of the persons with autism at the advice of Saima Wazed.
The prime minister said, "The Neurodevelopmental Disability Protection Trust Act, 2013" was passed in parliament to protect the interests of the persons with disabilities.
Health Minister Mohammad Naim, State Minister for Social Welfare Nuruzzaman Ahmed, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Welfare Ministry Dr Mohammad Mozammel Hossain and child with autism Ishaba Hafiz also spoke at the programme.
Later, the prime minister witnessed a colourful cultural function performed by physically challenged children.
Earlier, Sheikh Hasina distributed awards among successful children with autism and individuals and organisations working for the development of such children.
In 2007, the United Nations declared April 2 as the World Autism Awareness Day, aiming to improve the quality of life of those with autism. In Bangladesh, different programmes have been organised to mark the day.
Blue lights will be lit outside important government establishments across the country from today to Wednesday.