World Autism Day: Dubai to launch major awareness drive

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on April 1, 2021
Dubai Frame joined iconic landmarks across the globe last year and was illuminated with blue light to mark World Autism Awareness Day. — File photo

Month-long campaign aims to increase public understanding of autism, highlight the plight of families affected

Dubai Autism Center will launch an awareness campaign on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day on Friday.

The month-long campaign aims to increase public understanding of autism, highlight the plight of families affected by autism, as well as promote community acceptance of children with the condition.

The centre also announced free consultation sessions for children suspected of having autism. Appointments can be booked through the centre throughout April 2021. The campaign will also feature several awareness webinars organised in schools and public departments to sensitise people about the importance of social inclusion and the challenges facing individuals with autism.

Mohammed Al Emadi, director-general and board member of the Dubai Autism Center, said: “The campaign will highlight the importance of community support and their positive perception towards individuals with autism. The initiative seeks to promote acceptance of children with autism and create a better understanding of the characteristics of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which usually affects three primary areas: Speech and communication, social interaction and behaviour.”

The campaign, which is being launched under the patronage of the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, will feature various events and activities that are being supported by the public and private sectors and members of the community.

A number of government and private institutions and iconic buildings in Dubai like The Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Dubai Frame, Tolerance Bridge, Dubai Water Canal Waterfall and Global Village, will glow blue to mark the day.

Nicholas Orland, autism programme head, Dubai Autism Center, said: “Our campaign surrounds the concept of acceptance apart from various other things that are being done. We are doing workshops and training for individuals in the community on autism awareness, providing free consultations to families around Dubai to come into our centre and to connect with our services. We are also spending a lot of effort on marketing initiatives and through video campaigns so that individuals can accept someone on the autism spectrum and what are the specific things they could be doing to elevate the condition.”

He said resistance from people towards autistic children often comes due to a lack of awareness. “When parents see some early warning signs related to autism they feel the child is going to grow out of it and don’t seek help and that’s the worst thing to do because those symptoms become more severe. So, we are trying to generate awareness around the concept of acceptance this year,” adds Orland.

Understanding the difficulties autistic children face is key to improving their lives and minimising the challenges their families undergo. Therefore, this year, the campaign will focus on improving their lives and minimising the challenges their families undergo. These initiatives are being promoted through the media and various digital platforms with more than 2,500 screens that have been dedicated to display the campaign advertisement in the UAE.

Campaign’s partners and sponsors include Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Holding, Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), Union Coop, Dubai Duty Free, Dubai World Trade Center, Wasl Asset Management Group, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, Arabian Radio Network (ARN), Dubai Investments Company, Emirates Rawabi, GET Groupand others.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dewa, said: “As a socially responsible government organisation, Dewa is working to achieve the vision of the wise leadership to include and empower people of determination in society. Dewa is keen to support the annual autism awareness campaign to sustain efforts aimed at increasing social awareness about autism.”

Landmarks around the globe will light up in blue to mark World Autism Awareness on Friday.

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