Marking World Autism Awareness Day today, amid the shutdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak, Sylhet Art and Autism Foundation launched an online helpline for children with special needs.
Parents of children with special needs, who need suggestions and guidance, can call a dedicated whatsapp number to talk to the teachers of Sylhet Art and Autistic School, says Ismail Goni Himon, member secretary of the foundation.
"As we are not being able to observe the day the way we did every other year, we launched the online helpline with the contact number +88-01977-737399 and it will be open from 11am to 2pm everyday," Himon, also the principal of the school, said.
He said, "We are also going to start online classes for the students of the school from Sunday. We will also continue counselling, speech therapy, providing food guidelines and other things which the parents used to avail at the centre before."
Polash Purkayastha, a parent, said, "This is a good initiative for guardians of children with special needs as we can get suggestions, counselling from the teachers of the school."
"But such initiative will not reach unprivileged parents. Special initiatives should be ensured by the government and responsible authorities to provide good care during the countrywide shutdown," the guardian said.
Chandan Kumar Paul, Sylhet district disability officer, said, "The initiative taken by the Sylhet Art and Autism Foundation is praiseworthy during this crucial time when we are not being able to observe this day."
"We haven't taken any special initiative for children with special needs in this situation and there are no directives from the National Foundation for Development of Disabled Persons," he said.
World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 and this year the day is being observed by the UN with the theme "The Transition to Adulthood".