On November 19, Autism Speaks participated in a special event hosted by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations. The meeting was to garner support for the UN Resolution that addresses socio-economic needs of individuals, families and societies affected by autism spectrum disorders, development disorders and associated disabilities.
Held in the ECOSOC Chamber at the U.N., attendees were treated to a special performance by students both with and without autism from The Child’s School / Legacy High School Chorus.
The program was hosted Ambassador A.K. Abdul Momen from Bangladesh who gave an introductory statement calling for global backing of the new resolution and invited various international stakeholders present at the meeting to offer their words of support.
H.E. Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly, was the first to stand up for the resolution. Mr. Jeremic, accompanied by his wife Natasa, referred to autism as a “truly global health issue” that “strikes indiscriminately.” Mr. Jeremic closed his remarks by announcing a High-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development, on September 23, 2013. The highly anticipated meeting was announced as “The Way Forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.”
Suzanne and Bob Wright, Co-founders of Autism Speaks, made heartfelt pleas for member nations’ support. “This is the reason Autism Speaks has taken a global position – we are here to help all families, everywhere who live with this complex, developmental disorder,” said Mr. Wright. “We ask you – and representatives of all member states – to step up and become a co-sponsor of the new Resolution on Autism and help lead the way out of the darkness of ignorance and stigma and into a new day of acceptance and support.”
Mrs. Wright followed with a direct appeal: “We cannot move forward quickly and effectively as a community without the leadership and support from you and your governments. Please make autism a priority in your nations.”
Professor Michael Klag, M.D., M.P.H., Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, spoke about his journey in autism with his daughter, who was diagnosed 17 years ago. Dr. Klag called for support for children who are about enter adulthood. “We hear a lot about a fiscal cliff – there is a services cliff after age 18… Please take up this banner to help those with autism.”
Other speakers included Public Delegate U.S Mission to the United Nations, Cheryl Saban, Ph.D, Special Rep. of the Secretary General, Shamshad Akthar, and representatives from Panama, Phillipines, ECOSOC and the World Health Organization.
Saima Wazed Hossain, Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee of GAPH-Bangladesh, and daughter of the Prime Minister, concluded the program saying “The challenge is to mitigate concerns – to fully address needs – (they) must be multifaceted, culturally sensitive and economically feasible” She then called for global collaboration to “transcend geo-political boundaries.”
Autism Speaks wishes to thank the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh for hosting the inspirational meeting as well as the students from The Child School/Legacy High School and their Executive Director, Dr. Salvatore Ferrera and Music Director, Andy Fehrenbach.