Unlike yesteryears, they will perform independently on the stage, starting from anchoring, in the national celebration to send a message across that they can adopt and improve with “proper training”.
Autistic children cannot pick up self-care tasks – dressing, self-feeding, and using the toilet– unless someone teaches them.
But if they get training they show up with a particular skill.
‘Aninda’ and ‘Niloy’ were the two special children who were roaming inside the Vocational Training Centre of the Parents Forum for Differently-able at Mohakhali in Dhaka.
Special children are being taught about their interests ranging from tailoring to making paper bags, slippers using fabrics and beads necklace.
Begum Nur Jahan Dipa, Vice-Principal of the centre, told bdnews24.com that those children’s works had been displayed even at luxury hotels like Pan Pacific Sonargoan.
“Our children also work at the computer centre. We trained them up,” she said.
Bangladesh has no data on the number of children suffering from this neuro-development disorder.
But latest US study finds one in every 68 children to be autistic – a rate 30 percent higher than what it was four years ago.
President of Parents Forum for Differently Able Sajida Rahman Danny told bdnews24.com their children faced challenges growing up as they did not go to schools after a certain age.
“Then they have nothing to do except staying home,” she said, “But if we can train them up in subjects they take a special interest, they can work.”
According to UN estimates, more than 80 percent of adults with autism are unemployed.
It says employers are missing out on abilities that people on the autism spectrum have in greater abundance than “neurotypical” workers do.
The abilities include heightened abilities in pattern recognition and logical reasoning, as well as a greater attention to detail.
The hurdles that need to be overcome to unleash this potential include: a shortage of vocational training, inadequate support with job placement, and pervasive discrimination.
Bangladesh is globally acclaimed for its autism campaign but lacks vocational training facilities for those children.
“We are raising awareness in many ways, but now we want active role of all in society so that our children can live a better life,” Danny said.
For example, Vice-Principal Dipa said a few of their children were employed at a computer firm after training.
Initially, they found it hard to adjust as their colleagues could not accept them since they communicated differently.
“But when they (office colleagues) understood them, they (autistic children) started going to office regularly and for the last three years they have been working there.”
“We need to engage them in work after a certain age. Going to the same special school for long make them banal. Then they don’t want to go to school and you can’t insist on their (going there),” she said.
This year, the autism awareness day is highlighting the need to help improve the quality of life of special children and adults so that they can lead a meaningful life.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend the national celebration in the morning at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre while Bangladesh will co-sponsor a UN event in New York.
Her daughter Saima Wazed Hossain Putul spearheads the global campaign for Bangladesh and will speak at a panel in the UN event.
The aim of the event is to “demonstrate that people with autism can be valued employees for employers who understand their unique and often exceptional skills”. BDNEWS