Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said the celebration of World Autism Awareness Day fosters greater understanding and empathy and this day not only inspires parents into seeking early intervention therapies, but also calls for the full integration of persons with autism into society. This he said on Friday while speaking at a programme organized to observe World Autism Day at Center for Autism Rehabilitation and Training Sindh (C-ARTS).
The programme was attended by CM Special Assistant on Rehabilitation of differently-abled persons, Secretary Minorities Abbas Baloch, Secretary Rehabilitation Akhtar Bugti, Dr Rufina Soomro and others. Mr Shah called for greater access and work opportunities for the persons with autism.
“We have made a good deal of progress but much more needs to be done,” he said and added he was encouraged by the growing public awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the improvement in public services to autistic individuals in Pakistan, especially in Sindh.
He said his government was proud of C-ARTS. “It is a matter of great pride for us to run Pakistan’s first ever government-run autism center and ‘braille printing press’ right here in the city of lights.,” he said and added “this year, we are delighted to see our services be received with positivity and appreciation in remote towns and villages.”
The CM announced that an Autism center has been opened at Hyderabad, Latifabad, which was providing every autism rehabilitation service since the last eight months. He added that a Sindh government building has been allotted at Korangi, No. 2 ½ Karachi for persons of age group above 17 years. “This building has already been handed over to C-ARTS to commence the service and the inauguration of this center will be conducted next month,” he disclosed.
The chief minister said that Satellite Autism Centers would be established at Mirpurkhas, Nawabshah, Sukkur and Larkana this year. Similar centers would be established at divisional level in Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Sukkur, and Larkana. Soon, similar facilities would be established at district levels.The CM said that the people of Sindh with autism have talent galore and have an incredible potential. “They have remarkable visual as well as artistic and academic skills,” he said and lauded the faculty members of C-ARTS for using assistive technologies which enable nonverbal persons with autism to communicate and share their untapped capabilities.
“The government of Sindh recognizes the prowess of persons in the autism spectrum, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. We believe it is essential to create a society that is truly inclusive,” Mr Shah said and added unfortunately, employment of people with autism was low even at places with high awareness, therefore, it was essential for public and private organizations to understand their unique and often exceptional skills, and to enable a positive work environment where they could excel.
The CM said that autism needed to be taken seriously as it was devastating to see the lives of many young people and adults go waste. “We need to act and act fast, as every day that we don’t act is a day that has gone to waste,” he concluded.
Earlier, the chief minister inaugurated the play area for the children at C-ARTS. CM Special Assistant Sadiq Memon, Secretary Akhtar Bugti, Dr Rufina Soomro and others also spoke on the occasion.