President Paula-Mae Weekes says technology should be utilised to enhance the life for people living with special needs.
In a statement on Monday, Weekes said World Autism Awareness Day provides a platform to promote the rights and dignity of people with autism and to empower them to achieve their fullest potential. She said T&T has a responsibility to strengthen the regulatory and institutional frameworks which impact the lives of people with disabilities.
She noted that it was also important to remove the barriers that hinder personal progress and participation in society.
“Working to eliminate stereotypes and prejudices that marginalise people with autism is imperative and requires timely and proper diagnosis and treatment, which will ultimately lead to a better quality of life,” she said.
“Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of conditions characterised by developmental delays and social, communication and behavioural challenges. Autism tends to manifest itself in early childhood and occurs across all ethnic, cultural and socio-economic groups,” she said.
“People on the autism spectrum vary significantly in their ability to learn, think and communicate, and accordingly, require different levels of support and care. Although autism is a lifelong disorder, technological progress has significantly improved the ability of those with autism to be better included and integrated into aspects of everyday life,” she said.
Weekes said “assistive technologies can be used to enhance the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities, including autism.
“In keeping with the United Nations mandate to leave no one behind, persons with autism must be equipped with the right tools and mechanisms to participate in community life on an active and equitable basis. The UN estimates that over half of persons with disabilities in developing countries cannot access assistive devices given their high cost and the lack of availability, awareness and training. Greater effort needs to be made on our part to make assistive technologies accessible and cost-effective so that the differently-abled can contribute to the development of our communities and nation,” she added.