Throughout the world, April is the autism awareness month
The initiative has an important goal: to change the attitude towards people with autism spectrum disorders, to help them better integrate into society, to give them a chance for a happy and fulfilling life.
We tell how Kazakhstan joined the global campaign, what every parent needs to know about autism, and how business in our country contributes to building an inclusive society that is tolerant of special people.
According to official statistics in Kazakhstan in 2022, the diagnosis of autism was confirmed in 12,000 children. Globally, 1 in 54 children have ASD, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is the most common developmental disorder, but there are still many myths and stigmas surrounding it.
“The most common myth concerns the origin of the disorder,” explain specialists from the Assyl Miras autism centre of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, which has been implementing the “Autism. One World for All” programme in Kazakhstan since 2015. “Many blame it on vaccination or the wrong lifestyle of parents, but today scientists are not ready to give an unambiguous answer about the reasons for the manifestation of autistic traits in a child.
One thing is known for sure: autism is not a disease that can be cured once and for all. Therefore, it is correct to use the term “autism spectrum disorder”. It includes difficulties in everyday communication and social adaptation, non-standard way of processing information from the senses and a keen interest in certain topics.”
Experts note that it is very important to diagnose the disorder as early as possible and begin to provide assistance to a child with special needs. It directly affects the extent to which it will be possible to instill in him the skills of communication and independence in order to improve the quality of life of the child and his family.
The autism awareness campaign in Kazakhstan is dedicated specifically to the topic of early diagnosis: how to recognise the first signs of a disorder in a child, where to turn for help, how to contribute to the formation of a caring attitude towards special children. Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation and the Citix company talk about this in a special social project on smartboards – digital street gadgets.
A “clever” widget on smartboards tells about the signs of autism – lack of eye contact with a child, avoidance of touch, lack of a child’s reaction to his name, sensitivity to extraneous sounds, and others – and encourages parents of children under 3 years to independently pass the M-Chat diagnostic test on www.asylmiras.org website. The test will allow parents to assess the risk of ASD developing in a child and understand whether it is worth contacting a pediatric neurologist or a district therapist right now for an accurate diagnosis.
The educational widget is complemented by social videos aimed at making people see children with autism first as children, see their needs, interests and dreams, and only then notice their developmental disorders.
“We hope that joint efforts will help destigmatize autism and push citizens to better understand and accept people with ASD,” say the campaign initiators. The campaign will last throughout April, widgets and videos can be seen on all 110 Citix smartboards in Almaty and Astana.
Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation was founded in early 2014. The mission of the foundation is to help Kazakhstan become a better place for the life of people today and in the future by promoting the development of healthcare, education and culture. The idea of creating the fund belongs to its founder Bulat Utemuratov.
Citix works in the field of Smart City and AdTech, builds smart cities, creates and innovates for creative and technological outdoor advertising. An important focus of the company is the improvement of society in all directions, from the protection of women’s rights to the environmental protection projects. Source: