World Autism Awareness Day:General public encouraged to embrace knowledge on autism

As the world observes Autism Awareness Day today, 2nd April, the general public is encouraged to embrace knowledge on autism to reduce the stigma and violence towards adolescents and youth with autism, while supporting them to make healthy decisions with regards to their sexual and reproductive health.

In the year 2007 at the United Nations General Assembly, April 2 was adapted as World Autism Awareness Day with the goal of bringing glob attention to autism.

Thirteen years down the lane, World Autism Awareness Day has become a universal phenomenon with increased focus to various aspects of autism.

This year observance is under the theme: “Transition to Adulthood”

In Ghana, to observe the day, the Autism Ambassadors of Ghana (AAG) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana office jointly provide strategies and solutions to support adolescents with autism in their smooth transition from adolescent to adulthood.

Adolescence is the period between 10-19 years when children transition into adult where Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) is an essential aspect of their growth.

In addition, this stage presents varied challenges and needs for both boys and girls.

This was disclosed in a press release to mark this year World Autism Awareness Day, 2020 today, 2nd April.

Interestingly, young persons with disabilities have the same Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) needs as other young people yet they often face barriers to information’s and services not forgetting the forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) they go through during this period.

It is against this backdrop that, this year, UNFPA Ghana office through the Canada-funded UN Joint Programme on Empowering Adolescent Girls has partnered the Autism Ambassadors of Ghana (AAG) to hold an Autism-SRHR sitting to interact with parents and caregivers on the SRHR challenges of autism child while identifying more effective approaches to enhance their engagement with their children on SRHR issues and SGBV preventions.

Therefore, the need for national call for increased Responsiveness to the Sexual and Reproductive Health as well the rights of adolescents with autism.

Autism, being a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder affects the basic senses of an individual and causes an imparments in communication, social interaction and behaviour hence, adolescents with autism unfortunately face greater challenges with regards to accessing such information and services while girls with autism are more prone to Sexual Gender Based Violence and boys wit autism are more prone to mete out violence to girls without knowing.

However, to UNFPA and Autism Ambassadors of Ghana, evidence validates the fact that, existing services can easily be adapted to accommodate adolescents with autism whiles increased evidence shows the effectiveness of parent-child communication on the ability of adolescents to make healthy decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The two institutions therefore called on the media and civil groups as partners to support the autism campaign and utilize effective communication methods to drive home critical gender-reaponsive SRHR messages and actions.

Source: www.thenewindependentonline.com/ Ishmael Barfi/ senghana@gmail.com

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