Dr Bushra Al Mulla, Executive Director of the Community Development Sector at the Department of Community Development, praised the efforts of entities working on empowering, meeting the needs of, and integrating people with autism as an essential part of the community. On World Autism Awareness Day, she called on everyone to strengthen their commitments to the autistic and double their work to develop their skills and capacities.
Al Mulla also emphasized the focus set by the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day this year under the title "The Transition to Adulthood". She stressed that people with autism who reach adulthood have the right to participate fully and equally in social and economic life, and therefore, the necessary programs and interventions should be put in place to meet the needs of this vital transition phase in their lives. She noted that the following issues should be prioritized: inclusive learning at high schools and in higher education; accredited vocational qualification programs; inclusive and supportive employment; independent living skills programs; engagement in youth programs such as volunteer, cultural, entertainment, and sports programs; and engagement in decision making and self-determination.
Al Mulla added that, as an authority regulating the social sector in Abu Dhabi, the DCD prioritized people of determination and sought to increase understanding and awareness around their issues in the community. Mechanisms were also being developed to help them integrate, empower them, guarantee them equal access to rights and opportunities, offer them complete and high quality services, and develop evidence-based strategies and policies based on global best practices to improve the quality of life of people of determination and their families.
She further clarified that the comprehensive strategy for people of determination in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi would be announced very soon, with over 12 concerned entities in the Emirate and after consultation with people of determination. The strategy is expected to include four key pillars: health and social welfare, education, employment, and inclusive and equipped communities,. It will also include four enablers: governance, quality of services and data, research and innovation, and sustainable financing. This strategy will contribute to raising community awareness about disability based on a model that supports the rights of people of determination; develop mechanisms that empower people of determination as catalysts for social change; and ensure the provision of high-quality integrated services on the levels of government, the private sector and the civic sector. The strategy will further aim to achieve the DCD’s vision of an inclusive society that empowers people of determination, and thus achieve the main goal of its mission: to form the base of a tolerant and inclusive society for all groups.
Autism is a broad term that covers a range of neurological developmental disorders that affect a person’s social, communication, and behavioral skills. The disorders can be diagnosed as early as 18 months or even younger as symptoms start to appear during the first two years of a person’s life. Qualified experts can reliably diagnose autism at the age of two. Early intervention is vital and globally proven to help children gain the developmental and educational skills they need to integrate in the various aspects of life.