The world overserved Autism Awareness Day 2018 on April 2. Official statistics say there are about 44,000 autistic children across the country. However, because of the social stigma which still surrounds the condition despite increased awareness, it is possible that the number is actually much greater.
Bangladesh, according to the World Health Organisation, has been a global leader when it comes to raising awareness regarding autism. The current government has undertaken various programmes with regards to autism which is commendable. And the results of such programmes, too, have been encouraging to see, as the number of parents who now forego superstitions and instead go to doctors and expert institutions for the treatment of their children, have risen. The government had also promulgated two important acts that concern individuals with autism and help protect their rights and ensure their safety—The Disability Rights Law, 2013 and Neuro Developmental Disability Protection Trust Act, 2013. But as experts have opined, the country does not yet have the capacity to provide optimal treatment and support to those suffering from autism, especially in terms of having enough treatment centres that specialise in treating autism.
As the prime minister rightly said in her address marking the 11th World Autism Awareness Day, those who have autism should in no way be neglected by society, as they too are a part of it and may, in fact, “have much more talent” than the average person. And by properly harnessing those talents, we, as a society, can indeed benefit greatly.
We hope the government will continue its good work in terms of raising awareness about autism. Moreover, we urge it to work more proactively with the private sector in order to set up additional treatment centres for people with autism.