Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. Autism prevalence figures are growing, and it is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average, and receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases. Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism. There is no medical detection or cure for autism, and every 15 minutes a person is diagnosed with autism. This disease affects more individuals globally than AIDs, cancer and diabetes combined. Solutions have to be economically feasible and must be easily integrated into the health care framework globally. Bangladesh is one of the first countries to partner with the UN on the visibility initiative; as a result, domestic initiatives and regulations have been implemented. There is a need for global support in order to reach outlined goals, and to take action in order to improve and build on public awareness of mental health issues. A resolution adopted by the UN on the 12th day of the 2012th year at the 12 hour (Sixty-Seventh Session: Agenda Item 127) unanimously adopted Bangladesh’s resolution on the socioeconomic needs of individual, families and societies affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other development disorders (DD) associated Disabilities.
The UN held a high level meeting on global disability on the 23rd of September about autism stating “the need for society as a whole to lay new foundations to tackle this global epidemic”. The Qatar Representative spoke of the tremendous effort made by Autism Speaks and other groups, bringing a greater understanding to the public about Autism and alleviating the stigmas that surround the illness.
Autism is currently being given a serious amount of attention because it is on the rise; however, Autism and other mental illnesses are nothing new or an issue which is on a dramatic increase globally. It is however, only being acknowledged now that society can no longer force autistic individuals out in the cold. There needs to be a greater acceptance and integration in order to pave the way for a more meaningful and productive society. Areas which cause concern and lack of concrete frameworks within countries include: lack of data, lack of understanding, lack of funding, and lack of adequate frameworks in areas such as education, health care, training facilities and family support groups, and lack of strategic sustainable action plans which can be integrated with other community based programs.
By: Wayne Doyle