The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi affirmed that the observance of the World Autism Awareness Day, which falls on 2 April of each year, represents an opportunity to enable persons with autism to actively participate in society. This year‘s observance will address inclusive quality education for all in the context of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), which focuses on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, , as the foundation for improving people’s lives and reducing inequalities.
Her Excellency Dr. Layla Abdulaziz Al Hyas, Executive Director of the Social Monitoring and Innovation Sector at DCD said: "The Department is making great efforts with partners through the Abu Dhabi Strategy for POD, to empower persons with autism, noting that they are an integral part of the society. They have full rights to lead a dignified life, obtain quality education, and access suitable job opportunities.”
Dr. Al Hyas added: “The celebration of World Autism Awareness Day is an opportunity to shed light on the autism disorder and raise community awareness on the importance of accepting persons with autism. They are part of the human diversity, and it is the responsibility of the society and all entities to ensure their access to equitable rights and opportunities in health, education, work, and community participation. It is also imperative to raise awareness on the importance of early detection and diagnosis of children with autism; the earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chances are for early intervention which in turn optimizes the development of various skills in children , and consequently leads to enabling children with autism to reach their maximum potential in the education stage and beyond.”
Al Hyas indicated that this day is an occasion to address and demystify false information and stereotypes about autism, in addition to supporting and empowering families to deal with their children and providing them with the necessary guidance to monitor early signs of autism and seek intervention as early as possible.
DCD launched the 5-year Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination in 2020 to achieve the vision of “An inclusive and empowering community for People of Determination”. The department has set a comprehensive and integrated road map to achieve this vision through cross-sectorial strategic initiatives that are in implementation in coordination with various public, private, and the third sector entities , with the aim to empower and include POD in all aspects of life as well as to raise community awareness about POD, based on the human-rights perspective. , This will contribute in creating an inclusive and cohesive society bearing the slogan "people before place", a trend rooted in the UAE since its inception at the hands of its founder the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the wise leadership of today, the best successors to the best predecessors.