Statement of the Public Defender on World Autism Awareness Day

On April 2, World Autism Awareness Day is marked across the world. Establishment of this day by the United Nations General Assembly serves the purpose of raising awareness of the public about problems related to autism; also, planning of specific actions and their realization that will include both international organizations, and civil and private sectors with the view of overcoming challenges in this direction.

The main theme of this year’s World Autism Awareness Day is “Employment: Autism advantage”.

With regards to this day, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon initiated the campaign “Call to action” which aims at the private sector to assume specific obligations reflected in employment of persons with Autism spectrum disorders. The Secretary-General calls on government bodies, corporations, and small businesses to analyze how they perceive autistic persons, to dedicate a little more time to absorbing information and to promote realization of abilities of these individuals.

Equal realization of all human rights by persons on the autism spectrum is the main obligation of the state. Children with autistic disorders need special medical care and other services, including early screening and diagnostics. As we know, autism can be diagnosed starting from the age of 18 months. Respectively, referring to specialists at the early stage and appropriate interference ensures relevant development of a child that is especially important for the process of formation of these persons into fully-fledged members of the society.

Georgia faces numerous challenges with respect to protection of rights of persons with Autism spectrum disorders. To this day, there are no accurate statistical data, screening of these individuals. Additionally, problems existing with respect to this issue include late diagnostics and intervention, shortage of state programmes designed for and adapted to their needs, barriers on the road to realization of the right to education, obstacles in inclusive educational process; another problematic area is development of specific teaching strategies and methods adapted to needs of students with autism disorders, the issue of their implementation, as well as qualification of teachers.

The above and accompanying problems hinder later comprehensive realization of rights to education and employment of persons with autism spectrum disorders, ability of these persons to equally enjoy all human rights.

The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the state to ensure unhindered protection and support for rights of all individuals, including persons with autism spectrum disorders which will promote establishment of inclusive society in the country.

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