Public Defender’s Statement on World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day is marked on April 2. This day, initiated by the United Nations, serves to raise public awareness.

The theme of the 2019 World Autism Awareness Day is: “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation”. The United Nations Secretary-General says in his welcome speech that access to affordable assistive technologies is a prerequisite to being able to exercise their basic human rights and participate fully in the life of their communities. Assistive technology can reduce or eliminate the barriers to their participation on an equal basis with others.

Protection of the rights of persons with autism is related to many challenges in Georgia. It is problematic to ensure needs-based health care for people with autism and to provide continuous habilitation-rehabilitation services for them, taking into consideration the geographical accessibility. No state or municipal programmes envisage rehabilitation services for persons with autistic spectrum disorders above the age of 15. In addition, only few municipalities have similar programmes intended for children and they cannot fully cover the existing needs.

Proper inclusion of people with autism in inclusive education or involvement of specialists in the process remains a challenge. No enough measures have been taken to support the families of people with autism. They often have to face difficulties alone and independently deal with daily barriers. The stigma against such persons remains a problem.

The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the state to take effective steps to resolve existing problems, provide individual needs-based services for people with autistic spectrum disorders and promote their equal participation in the public life by taking positive measures.

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