Wednesday, April 17, 2024
28 C
Brunei Town

Surviving to thriving

As more children are getting diagnosed with autism, Brunei Darussalam must be prepared to support and show concern for these individuals, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his message for World Autism Awareness Day 2024.

The minister highlighted that there has been a significant rise in diagnosed cases of autism over the last decade. “In 2011, only 35 children were diagnosed with autism, now 230 children have been diagnosed in 2024,” he said.

Overall, there are nearly 2,200 children diagnosed with autism in the Sultanate. “This means there are nearly 2,200 families who require support from all levels of society,” he said, adding that, “almost all these autistic children will require support in terms of their education in both school and pre-school”.

The goal is for all individuals with autism to have a high quality of life and equal opportunities in education, employment and all aspects of life, he said.

He noted that autism is a lifelong condition, and individuals with autism live as long as those without.

“Therefore, comprehensive support is greatly needed from all levels of society including schools, educational institutions, workplaces, colleagues, employers and other stakeholders including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community leaders and others.

“All of this is crucial to raise awareness on autism and ensure that all individuals with disabilities are given equal opportunities to improve their quality of life in all aspects,” he said.



The United Nations has chosen ‘Awareness, Acceptance and Appreciation: Moving from Surviving to Thriving’ as this year’s theme for World Autism Awareness Day 2024, said the minister. “The celebration serves to emphasise on how important it is for us to consider the rights of all individuals with disabilities,” said the minister.

The minister noted that autism is a neurological condition that is developed in early childhood and can occur regardless of gender, race, and socio-economic status.

“This variation of neurological condition alters an individual’s development from typical to not typical, and can impact individuals with autism in terms of learning, family life, job opportunities, their ability to be independent and more.

“Autism is not a disease that can be treated with medications. Diagnosis for individuals with autism is typically made between the ages of two to three.

“The terms Autism Spectrum refers to a range of characteristics which among others uniqueness in how they communicate and interact socially and uniqueness in their behaviour, interest and activities.

“Due to these characteristics, individuals with autism often use different learning methods, and are more comfortable performing activities in a routine manner, find it difficult to adapt to changes in their routine, may find typical communication procedures challenging, and have their own way of processing sensory information.

“Considering various life challenges for each individual with autism that may not be recognised by the society, appropriate support and acceptance of neurological variations are crucial to provide equal opportunities and full participation in improving the lives of these individuals.

“The celebration also plays a role in celebrating the achievement that can be attained by each individual with autism.

“It provides hope that we can be more attentive to the needs, special qualities and challenges experienced by individuals with autism so that Brunei Darussalam will become a more inclusive and compassionate nation.” – Rokiah Mahmud