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Don’t neglect autistic, disabled children: PM

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pm-hasinaStaff Reporter
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged upon the people to help create scope for flourishing talents of the autistic children and be sympathetic to them as all have duties and responsibilities to such disadvantaged children alongside their parents and the state.
“I'll urge all to see that the autistic and disabled children are not neglected and they could get scope for flourishing their talents as they are also part of the society. It's our goal so that we could ensure their secured life,” she said yesterday at the inaugural function of the 7th World Autism Awareness Day 2014.
Social Welfare Minister Syed Mohsin Ali presided over the function held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre here in the morning.
State Minister for Social Welfare Promod Mankin was the special guest at the function while Secretary in-charge of the ministry Nasima Begum delivered the welcome address.
This year's theme of the Day is ‘We all are for increasing awareness on autism’.
From the Conference Center, Hasina unveiled the plaques of the foundation stone of the National Disability Complex to be constructed in city's Mirpur and declared turning the National Foundation for the Development of the Disabled to the Disabled Development Directorate.
The Prime Minister mentioned that every year she used to distribute some 20,000 to 25,000 greeting cards marking the New Year and Eid festivals with the work of art by an autistic child. From now on, she said, she would take three works of art from three autistic children for the greeting cards.
Hasina exchanged pleasantries with some of the autistic children present at the Conference Center and hugged them warmly.
Mentioning that many parents of the autistics children often tend to confine their children at home, Hasina suggested them not to do so as all people of the society would have to be sympathetic to all such disadvantaged children.
She said: “It is our goal to enable them live in the mainstream of the society,”
“Every person has the right to live with dignity and the persons with disability including the autistic ones have the equal right to such dignity alongside leading a healthy life,” she added.
The Prime Minister reminded that real development is not possible without balanced development and reaching its benefits to the doorsteps of all people. She said balanced development can not be ensured keeping the disabled people including those with autism outside the mainstream.
As per the election manifesto of 2008, Hasina said that her previous government had passed two laws - ‘The Disabled People’s Rights and Protection Act, 2013' and ‘The Neuro-developmental Disabled Protection Act, 2013’.
“After the formation of the government this time, we’ve taken initiatives for framing necessary rules for the two laws.”
She said to involve the persons with disability in the mainstream of development, her government during the 1996-2001 tenure constituted the National Foundation for the Development of the Disabled in 1999. This organization has been working for the development of the persons with disability.
The Prime Minister said that 73 service and help centers have been set up in 64 districts of the country for providing “one stop” services to the disabled and autistic people.
An autism corner has been launched at every centre, she said, adding that such activities would be expanded to the upazila level in future.
Hasina said land has been allocated for the construction of a multipurpose sports complex at Savar in Dhaka for increasing efficiency of the persons with disability in the field of sports and games.
Sports competition for the disabled children will be arranged at the national level in future, she said, adding that the autistic children have fared well in sports especially winning medals in the Special Olympics and there is need for imparting them more training.
The Prime Minister also called upon the non-government organizations to supplement the government efforts for the development of the persons with disability. “Involving the autistic children with the mainstream will be possible with the united efforts of all, Insha-Allah,” she said.
She mentioned that the construction work of a multipurpose complex for the disabled people has started at Mirpur in the capital. There will be arrangements for shelter homes with education and medicare facilities for 275 disabled and autistic people of different classes.
Since the parents of the autistic and intellectually-challenged children always remain worried about the future of their children, Hasina said that to free them from such a situation, her government has taken initiatives for running a trust through the 'Autistic and Neuro-developmental Disabled Protection Trust Act, 2013’ under which some organizations would be set up to ensure life-long accommodation for the autistic persons.
She said the Social Service Department is conducting a survey to identify the persons with disability. “I hope, the work on registration and providing identity cards to the disabled people would be completed by this year.”
The PM also mentioned that her government has established the Centre for Neurodevelopment and Autism in Children (CNAC) along with Shishu Bikash Kendra in all medical colleges. “We’ve announced to turn Bangladesh Protibandhi Unnayan Foundation into the ‘Disabled Development Directorate’ to raise the quality of the services for the disabled persons,” she said.
Hasina said Saima Hossain Putul, the granddaughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has been working to organize the neurodevelopment activities including autism at international level as a psychiatrist.
“Mainly under her initiatives, the Bangladesh government placed a proposal at the 67th UN General Assembly for undertaking coordinated efforts by the government and private sectors about the issues of the persons with disability,” she said, adding that this proposal was unanimously adopted on December 12 in 2012.

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