World Autism Awareness Day 2020
Progressing from “Awareness” to “Understanding and Action”
In regard to Autism, the past year has seen a focus on the cause of Autism being neurologically based and moving from “Awareness” to “Understanding and Action” which will be of great benefit for *Autistic people across the globe.
Unfortunately, the physical progress of these developments will be severely delayed as the whole world is facing the Covid-19 pandemic and isolation. Nevertheless we must work together to keep the momentum of enhancing understanding of Autism amongst all people.
We must remember to recognise and embrace that Autistic people are different, not less, and we must presume competence, even if this is not immediately obvious. We must find and strengthen the competencies, and we must learn to listen with our whole being as to what Autistic people are trying to say. We must remain patient and give the person the time they need to respond, as, contrary to customary belief, Autistic people DO have empathy, they DO want friendships and they CAN communicate, albeit in a different way.
Time in isolation is a great opportunity for us to encourage parents of children without special needs to learn more about Autism. To consider how, rather than us spending a lot time guiding our family member how to behave during interaction with those without Autism, to encourage and teach others to understand how they can modify their behaviours and interactions with Autistic people.
During this time of self-isolation, this can also be time for the general community to consider how such loneliness and boredom can impact Autistic people. Sadly, self isolation, bringing a lot of loneliness, can often be preferable for Autistic people, rather than exposing themselves to the often unadapting and unaccommodating general public.
The Covid-19 virus offers us all time to reflect on so many issues, for example how we live and how we can positively change our approach and lives in the future.
We wish all families, especially those who have one or more members with Autism, good health and minimal impact from the Covid-19 virus. Many countries are facing critical and severe effects, but what has become apparent is that this global crisis will unify all of us as families and people around the world.
NB: The next General Assembly of the WAO
will take place online (via Citrix) on Saturday 4 April:
For details to connect online and to get the access code,
please send an email to Petra: autnam-at-iway.na;
Anyone may attend the GA, only paid up members may vote on any issue.
Any questions and suggestions: send an email to the WAO Secretary: Contact Us
We are sorry to have to inform you that the Kosovo conference has been postponed
due to COVID-19 (Corona Virus).
We will update you as soon as we can.
Kosovo: 2 – 4 April 2020
Words of encouragement from WAO president, Dr Samira Al-Saad:
Dear Members and Friends of World Autism Organisation,
During this time of the unknown, as the whole world is facing the corona virus (covid_19), of course our dear families who have one or more member/s with Autism are among them. We urge everyone to take care of themselves as well as taking extra care and precautions for their beloved autistic family members. We know that some countries are facing harsher times than others, nevertheless this crisis will unify all of us as families and people around the world.
Any parent of a child has to give more attention to the child in times like these, especially because they can’t go out. This is the perfect time to play together, read stories, clean the house, etc.
Please take the necessary precautions as instructed by health authorities and together we will beat such virus and will move on ….
Sincerely and with best wishes
Dr. Samira Al-Saad
President, World Autism Organisation
2 April: UN World Autism Awareness Day:
On World Autism Awareness Day, we recognize and celebrate the rights of persons with autism. This year’s observance takes place in the midst of a public health crisis unlike any other in our lifetimes — a crisis that places persons with autism at disproportionate risk as a result of the coronavirus and its impact on society.
Persons with autism have the right to self-determination, independence and autonomy, as well as the right to education and employment on an equal basis with others. But the breakdown of vital support systems and networks as a result of COVID-19 exacerbates the obstacles that persons with autism face in exercising these rights. We must ensure that a prolonged disruption caused by the emergency does not result in rollbacks of the rights that persons with autism and their representative organizations have worked so hard to advance.
Universal human rights, including the rights of persons with disabilities, must not be infringed upon in the time of a pandemic. Governments have a responsibility to ensure that their response includes persons with autism. Persons with autism should never face discrimination when seeking medical care. They must continue to have access to the support systems required to remain in their homes and communities through times of crisis, instead of facing the prospect of forced institutionalization.
We all have a role to play in ensuring that the needs of people who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 are met during this difficult period. Information about precautionary measures must be provided in accessible formats. We must also recognize that when schools employ online teaching, students with non-standard ways of learning may be at a disadvantage. The same applies to the workplace and working remotely. Even in these unpredictable times, we must commit to consulting persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, and ensuring that our non-traditional ways of working, learning, and engaging with each other, as well as our global response to the coronavirus, are inclusive of and accessible to all people, including persons with autism.
The rights of persons with autism must be taken into account in the formulation of all responses to the COVID-19 virus. On World Autism Awareness Day, let us stand together, support each other and show solidarity with persons with autism.
— António Guterres
More information: https://www.un.org/en/observances/autism-day