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Kuwait marks World Autism Awareness Day
April 1, 2015, 11:46 am

Kuwait is marking the World Autism Awareness Day, which falls on April 2, to spread knowledge about the needs of the increasing numbers of autistic patients around the world. The autism day was first launched by the UN's General Assembly in 2007, to encourage NGOs and international organizations to bring awareness to people towards the disease, and support education programs for patients.

The event also aims to showcase the challenges facing autistic people, and to stress that they have rights equal to all society members, according to the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Kuwait pays huge attention towards caring for people with special needs, issuing Law 8/2010 to safeguard the rights of this category of society.

The country's organizations are continuously exerting efforts to create a better life for disabled people, mainly autistic patients, who are estimated to be between 2,000 and 2,500 in Kuwait.

In 1994, the Kuwait Center for Autism was established as a Waqf (endowment) project by the Kuwait Public Awqaf Foundation, with both the Ministry of Education and individual philanthropists pitching in later on to furbish the center and improve its services. The center was the first specialized institution in this field in the Arab World.

The center's activities and services span beyond Kuwait to the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab countries. It is the meeting place and organizer of gatherings of specialists, researchers and training courses, receiving the first ISO awards for institutions in this field in the Middle East. Moreover, Applied Behavior Center of Kuwait (ABC), is another body which treats autistic children through early intervention services and educational programs.

Autism is a form of mental disability caused by a neurological disorder which develops early, before three years of age. The disease interferes with the patient's social interaction abilities and usually affects males more than females. The UN estimates the numbers of unemployed autistic people at 80 percent around the world. The patients are usually rejected when applying to jobs as those in charge assume that these patients can't do well in a working environment.

People usually disregard, or are unaware of the fact that autistic patients have many characteristics including a thorough recognition of details, strong visual skills, long-term memory, along with artistic, musical and mathematical abilities which could make them suitable for many jobs such as data entry, linguistic review and software testing.

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