EXCERPTS FROM A REPORT FROM AUTISM SPEAKS
U.N. Passes Unanimous Resolution Expressing ‘Deep Concern’ Over Long-Term Challenges for Persons with Autism, Developmental Disorders
NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 12, 2012) – Today the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously passed a new resolution calling on governments to take urgent action to improve access to long-term healthcare, education, training and intervention programs for persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), developmental disorders (DD), and associated disabilities, at local, national and international levels. The resolution was drafted and tabled by the Mission of Bangladesh with the support of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, and more than 70 co-sponsors.
Ambassador Abdul Momen of Bangladesh spoke in support of the resolution immediately before it passed with unanimous consent. The new resolution will enable UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to bring Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other disabilities to the attention of all member states and UN organizations in advance of the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities that will take place in September 2013.
During the discussion of the resolution at the UN General Assembly, several of the co-sponsors spoke about advances in government support and service provision for individuals and families affected by ASD in their home countries. The representative from Israel said that their country is currently introducing a law that will provide individuals with ASD lifelong government support. Saudi Arabia spoke of the need to recognize the special talents of those with ASD and of the success of a new organization called The Charitable Society for Autism Families in Saudi Arabia, an effort led by Princess Samira bint Abdullah Al-Farhan. Indonesia highlighted the importance of capacity-building as well as support for not only affected individuals, but also their families.
The new resolution encourages member states to increase research expertise and service delivery through international collaboration, to ensure an inclusive educational system in their home countries, to enhance access to support services, and to continue to raise public and professional awareness of ASD, DD and other disabilities in order to combat stigma and discrimination.
The resolution recognizes the particular severity of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in the developing world, where lack of knowledge and expertise to recognize symptoms and identify ASD and other disabilities presents a major barrier to improving the health and wellbeing of this population. It notes the absence of effective routine screenings that allow for early detection, in turn limiting access to early intervention and care.
The 2007 UN resolution on autism, which was dedicated to increasing global awareness of autism and officially established April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, has seen great success in drawing the world’s attention to autism. This year, more than 600 cities in 45 countries on 6 continents participated in the 2012 World Autism Awareness Day activities.
The new resolution has already begun to inspire various member states to take action to address autism. In January 2013, the governments of Bangladesh and India, with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Autism Speaks, will hold the first meeting of the Southeast Asia Autism Network (SAAN) in New Delhi, India. The mission of SAAN is to identify regional challenges and opportunities for partnership on issues related to autism.