Dr. Bushra Al Mulla, Executive Director of the Community Development Sector at the Abu Dhabi Department of Community Development (DCD), said that World Autism Awareness Day underlines the importance of community awareness and societal engagement of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Al Mulla added that this day is a vital reminder of the the needs of people with ASD as an integral part of society who enjoy their full rights, including their rights to participation and empowerment.
She added: “People of determination (PoD) who with ASD possess various skills and energies in which all entities must invest, in order to enhance the state's efforts to engage everyone in achieving the vision of our wise leadership to leverage the influential support of PoD in the journey of construction, growth, and development. She noted that the theme set by the UN as a focus area for this year's World Autism Awareness Day, Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World, reflects our role and missions with partners to ensure that PoD have equal access to work opportunities and are empowered to engage in the economic cycle, especially given the additional challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Al Mulla added: “The labor market needs more diverse skills, abilities, and talents, and people with ASD can offer this diversity. Therefore, employers must create models that ensure inclusive workplace and employment practices that support all capabilities and talents. Although the Covid-19 pandemic negatively affected many aspects of life, it has enhanced remote work, which has resulted in the creation of jobs that are more suitable for people with ASD and that allow them to highlight their skills by working from a home environment without an urgent need for direct presence in the workplace.”
Al Mulla stressed that, DCD is responsible for organizing the social sector in Abu Dhabi, and keen to lead the agenda of integrating and empowering PoD to realize DCD’s vision of achieving a decent life for them by ensuring equal access to opportunities and rights. She pointed out that the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination, launched by the DCD in 2020, proposed a vision of "an inclusive and enabling society for PoD." Thus, this strategy developed a comprehensive and integrated road map through strategic initiatives across all sectors in the emirate to empower and integrate PoD in cooperation with various government entities, private entities, and the third sector. The strategy also strives to raise community awareness about PoD based on a perspective that supports their rights and creates a coherent and cohesive society that values the development of "man before land". This has been a deep-rooted vision in the UAE since its inception by its late founder Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and was carried over by all his excellent successors.
Al Mulla pointed out that the strategy includes a key focus on employment, under the leadership of the Abu Dhabi Human Resources Authority (HRA) and in cooperation with various stakeholders, to develop an inclusive employment policy and launch initiatives that ease obstacles for PoD. Thus, effective and inclusive employment can be achieved by disseminating concepts that enhance the art of dealing with PoD in the work environment and by raising awareness in the working community about the rights of PoD in various fields, to enhance their positive role in the positions they occupy in various institutions.
Al Mulla also pointed to the Hemam initiative, launched recently by the HRA in cooperation with the DCD and the Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, aimed at educating government employees, employers, and government companies about the right practices in dealing with PoD employees and colleagues. The initiative also underlines the importance of institutional cooperation in creating an embracing work environment by enabling PoD to perform their duties comfortably and with high productivity, and thus, ensuring satisfaction, happiness, and quality of life for them.