World Autism Awareness Day: UN chief urges people to help change attitudes

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Spencer Hart, a woman with autism performs at a UN event marking World Autism Awareness Day 2017. UN Web TV

When persons with autism enjoy self-determination and autonomy, they will be empowered to make a positive impact on our common future.

That's the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres for World Autism Awareness Day, observed this Sunday, 2 April.

Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood.

It consists of a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language.

While some people with autism are able to live independent lives, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support.

Dianne Penn reports.

The UN Secretary-General called for people everywhere to play a part in changing attitudes towards persons with autism.

Citing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Mr Guterres said these citizens hold inherent rights just like other members of society, including equal recognition before the law.

"In the exercise of those rights and their freedom to make their own choices, let us ensure that we make available the necessary accommodations and support to persons with autism," he stated.

Mr Guterres said that with support, persons with autism will be empowered to face key milestones in life, such as deciding where and with whom to live, whether to get married and start a family, what type of work to pursue, and how to manage their personal finances.

"When they enjoy equal opportunity for self-determination and autonomy," his message concluded, "persons with autism will be empowered to make an even stronger positive impact on our shared future."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'05"


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