Public Defender's Statement on World Autism Awareness Day

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. The day has been observed since 2008 as per the resolution of the United Nations and its goal is to continuously draw public attention to support individuals with autism, to improve quality of their life and social life, and to ensure their full and effective participation in the public life.

The theme of this year is: "Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity"

The UN Secretary-General's appeal once again clearly emphasizes the importance of equal participation and active involvement of persons with autism for achieving the inclusive societies envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals. His message says that persons with autism naturally have a wide range of abilities and different areas of interest; they all share the capacity for making our world a better place, which is often not realized. This is a violation of human rights and a waste of human potential.

The situation is basically unchanged in Georgia with regard to the protection of the rights of persons with autism. Proper realization of their rights remains a significant challenge. There are no official statistics about people with autism, which is directly related to the planning and implementation of necessary services for them. Barriers remain in pre-school and school educational processes. Lack of specific teaching strategies and methods, low qualifications and insufficient number of teachers impedes proper inclusion of children with autism and possibility of receiving quality education.

Stigma and stereotypes existing in the society are also a problem. Part of the citizens, including famous public activists, strengthens the existing wrong attitudes by their statements.

On the World Autism Awareness Day the Public Defender again urges the state to improve the rights situation of people with autism and to take care of increasing their capabilities; to take appropriate measures in order to change the attitudes of the society and to overcome the existing stigma; to ensure full participation of people with autism in the public life and to promote creation of decent future for them.

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