New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the annual observance of World Autism Awareness Day should spur global action to combat the "unacceptable discrimination, abuse and isolation" that people with the disorder and their loved ones face.
"Autism is not limited to a single region or a country; it is a worldwide challenge that requires global action,” Ban stated in a message for the Day, which is observed annually on 2 April.
The message, made available to PANA in New York on Saturday, quoted the secretary-general as saying that, people with autism are equal citizens who should enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
He also noted that although developmental disabilities such as autism begin in childhood, they persist throughout a person’s life.
“Our work with and for people with autism should not be limited to early identification and treatment; it should include therapies, educational plans and other steps that lead us towards sustained, lifelong engagement,” the UN said.
He said reaching out to people with autism spectrum disorders required global political commitment and better international cooperation, especially in sharing good practices.
Ban stressed the need for greater investments in the social, education and labour sectors, since developed and developing countries alike still need to improve their capacities to address the unique needs of people with autism and cultivate their talents.
He further said: “We also need to promote further research, train non-specialized care providers, and enable the autism community to more easily navigate care systems to obtain services that can support and mainstream individuals with autism."
On Friday in New York, Vienna and Geneva, the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) released six commemorative postage stamps and two collectible envelopes dedicated to autism awareness, with images created by artists who have been diagnosed with autism.
Ban said that, "the stamps will send a powerful message to people around the world that talent and creativity live inside all of us".
The UN is the only organization in the world which is neither a country nor a territory that is permitted to issue postage stamps.
It is the only postal authority to issue stamps in three different currencies – the United States dollar, the Swiss franc and the euro.
The stamps will go on sale in New York, Vienna and Geneva beginning on Monday.
In December 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day in an effort to draw attention to a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions around the globe.
Autism is characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social interactions and in restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour.
-0- PANA AA/MA 31March2012