GENEVA — On May 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) passed the first ever global Autism Resolution deemed the “Comprehensive and Coordinated Efforts for the Management of Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Primarily backed by Bangladesh, the resolution was cosponsored by 50 states and received the support of all of the 194 member countries at the annual assembly of the WHO.
Breaching a topic that receives little attention, the global autism resolution hopes to eliminate stigmas surrounding developmental disorders so that they can be addressed effectively, rather than ignored. The resolution has designed policies and procedures that will help countries work toward attainable goals and make life better for those with autism.
So why is addressing autism so important? For one, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) effects tens of millions of people worldwide. In the U.S. alone there are 2 million people who lie somewhere on the autism spectrum, and these numbers have been rising from 10 to 17 percent in the past few years. The numbers keep going up as research reveals more effective and accurate methods of diagnosis.
Beyond the high numbers, autism has large effects on the day to day lives of those effected, and those who take care of them. The spectrum is vast and every person with ASD presents different symptoms. In general, though, Autism Speaks explains that “ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.” Because these symptoms affect human interaction and daily functioning, people with autism require assistance from their families and communities, assistance that they sometimes don’t receive enough of, especially when they enter adulthood.
There is no cure for the ASD, and the research on the causes of the disorder are slowly delivering answers about the source. Those with ASD are often faced with discrimination and can become isolated from society, and the global autism resolution aims to address these issues by giving them the health care attention and societal support they need to improve their quality of life.
The resolution includes 20 “urges” and requests made to the global community to make improvements in the lives of people with autism and the communities around them. Among these are requests “to provide social and psychological support and care to families affected by autism spectrum disorder,” “to improve health information and surveillance systems that capture data on autism spectrum disorders” and to assist developing countries with acquiring the resources necessary to support those with autism.
Those with autism often excel at particular subjects like music, art and math, but lack certain social skills. They deserve social support and acceptance as much as everyone else does, and as the global autism resolution takes effect around the world, hopefully they will begin to receive it. Providing developing countries with the resources and information needed to support those with autism and other developmental disabilities can lead to a more cohesive community, one in which there is societal stability that can serve to bolster economies and make the transition from developing to developed.
Sources: Autism Speaks, Business-Standard