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Autism Support in UAE: Reinforcing Autistic Civil Rights

Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE, after going through countless studies, has noted that the basic human rights of autistic people are not being met. To promote better autism support in Dubai we think it is important to help and advocate for every autistic individual and their rights. As the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) states, “Disability rights are civil rights, and civil rights are disability rights.

Civil Rights are Disability Rights

Each autistic person has the same equal and inalienable rights as anyone and everyone else. They are all entitled to these rights, regardless of their age, gender, race and/or ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, language, religion, economic status, which end of the spectrum they exist on, etc. Looking at the history of the autistic community, those diagnosed with autism have had to face discrimination and obstacles, which have denied them the enjoyment of the full extent of human and civil rights.

This result of neglect has led to autistic individuals being faced with marginalization and poverty at frightening rates in comparison to their neuro-normative counterparts. The diagnoses of autism are not taken seriously at all. Rather, such people are socially shunned and avoided altogether in many countries and communities. It seems that they forget that our international, federal and local governments must protect all citizens’ human rights, including individuals with autism.

Professor Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, argued that even with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (adopted in 2006), the autistic community still does not enjoy human rights to the same degree as everyone else. In his speech, he stated that autistic people account for a significant minority in the whole world,  and yet we have and are failing them in more than one way.

This roadblock to a progressive community restrains their inclusion in society. This strain on their autonomy is an underestimated problem that must be addressed. There has been a UN Convention to support people with disabilities for nearly 10 years now, yet we are still incapable of upholding our promise to protect every human being and their basic rights.

Hate Crime towards the Disabled Community

First and foremos,t to be considered eligible for human rights, a person must at least be considered a member of the human population- a membership quite some people believe is negated in cases of those with disabilities such as ASD. The main problem of such a mindset is highlighted in journalist, Katherine Quamby’s 2011 book on disability hate crime. She claims that the dehumanizing  and degradation of those who have been diagnosed with ASD and other disabilities that have been labelled as “…not considered to be fully human and deserving of basic human rights…” is unfortunately commonplace.

Even many autism treatment centres in Dubai have come across numerous people with various physical and cognitive differences, who were targeted for abuse by those in their residential communities, by caretakers in their own homes and/or their supposed friends.

The events chronicled in Qumaby’s book are a testament to the importance and urgency of reassuring people with disabilities and ensuring that they are, and will be protected by basic human rights.

Supporting the Autistic community

As a community, we need to be there for our neighbours. Hate in all forms affects everyone, be it ingrained or in the moment. We must have a strong shoulder of support and compassion for autistic individuals.

According to the findings by way of autism support in UAE, in Resolution 67/82 of 19th March 2013, the United Nations General Assembly had recommended to the Member States “to enhance access to appropriate support services” and  “equal opportunities” for inclusion and parting in society by providing, as appropriate, training to public administrators, teachers and healthcare providers.

We need to recognize and accept that, to develop and implement feasible, effective and sustainable intervention programmes, our people need to create an innovative, integrated approach which would benefit from a focus (inter alia) on:

  • Increasing public and professional awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Enhancing the inclusive and educational programmes suited to autistic children
  • Spreading awareness of the advantages of the inclusion of individuals with ASD in society

We at Small Steps Big Dreams in Dubai, UAE, aim at addressing the conducts of the society towards the autistic community in the different parts of the globe, in hopes that we can learn from example and apply the knowledge gain locally in order to improve autism support in UAE.

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