Speakers say on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day
In a webinar on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day, speakers discussed issues relating to social and economic protection of people with autism and other neurological disabilities. The webinar was organized and hosted by PFDA - Vocational Training Center Trust, a vocational institution that provides training to people with neurological disabilities.
The managing director of Neuro-Developmental Disability Protection Trust, Anwar Ullah said that a disabled person remains economically poor even when their families are not poor, because they do not have economic freedom. "Just like the government has responsibilities towards them, the society also has responsibilities. Now social organizations, wealthy individuals are taking many initiatives about them. This is a good development. The government is playing the role of a catalyst here," he said.
Neuro-Developmental Disability Protection Trust was formed by the government in 2014 under a 2013 Act that aims to improve the lives of neurologically disabled people.
Also speaking at the event, musician Hamin Ahmed said there are no schools with appropriate expertise for children with neuro-developmental disabilities. He said if staffs at restaurants, public transportations and other public places, had some familiarity or training on how to handle the presence of an autistic child that will practically help parents with autistic children. “Making sure that people in these places are able to assist an autistic person is a very important matter,” said Hamin Ahmed, who has two kids with neuro-developmental disabilities.
Hisham Islam, a trainee student at PFDA - Vocational Training Center Trust, and who suffers from autism, said that Covid-19 restrictions are causing problems for him. Islam said not being able to talk to his teachers face-to-face and not the lack of access to facility for exercising at his institution are causing him distress. “I was hoping to get a job this year, but it got stalled because of the pandemic induced situation,” he said.
Shawdesh Ranjan Ranjan Chakrabarty, a parent of a student at PFDA - Vocational Training Center Trust said that if awareness is build from within communities then it will eventually help make things easy for people the neuro-developmental disabilities. “If I get the support of my community then my kid can go out and feel safe,” he said.
Dhaka Tribune journalist Saqib Sarker said that from his experience of talking to parents, therapists, and other experts, one of the urgently needed things is early intervention. But there is a complete lack of trained professionals who can provide this service in Bangladesh, Sarker said. He also said that editors at media outlets should think about stories based anchoring off of the 2013 legislation that established a rights-based approach to disability-inclusive development instead of the conventional charity-based approach.
The Principal of PFDA-Vocational Training Center (VTC), Nurjahan Dipa said, “We follow a model at VTC. The first important thing I want to stress on is that children must be get a proper diagnosis and identification process. This will identify whether they are educable or trainable. If someone is educable, then we will bring them under inclusive education. When someone is trainable we will bring them under a vocational training program.”
Dipa further emphasized the importance of teachers’ training. “Teacher’s training cannot be theoretical. It has to be practical, it has to be centre-based. In their placement teachers must work with students,” she said.
The webinar was hosted by Sajida Rahman Danny, Founder Chairman, PFDA-Vocational Training Center.