In support of World Autism Day, Albanian President Ilir Meta has posted a message on Facebook asking for more assistance for children who are diagnosed with the condition.
“World Autism Awareness Day reminds us of our institutional and social obligations for children and their families who need solidarity, help, care and love. Today, this day is observed in the middle of a serious health and economic crisis due to the global COVID-19 pandemic which has brought great difficulties, especially for children with autism who cannot carry out their routines and activities.
The support of these children, as well as finding the solution to the essential problems that concern their families should be a priority.
Our society needs solidarity for a compassionate and human Albania, for love, care and dedication to the most in need,” said Meta.
It is not known exactly how many children are suffering with autism in Albania as many do not seek help and the condition is still stigmatized by society. Figures from 2012 put the figure at around 4300 but the actual figure is estimated to be higher.
Autism is a spectrum and is a lifelong diagnosis that usually manifests between one and three years old. It affects verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction, activities and behaviors. Its symptoms can present in a wide variety of combinations from mild to severe.
Being autistic does not mean someone has an illness or disease and it does not have treatments or a “cure”. While the exact cause of autism is not completely understood, it is generally accepted that it is something that you are born with. Suggesting that it is an ‘injury’, a disease, or a negative consequence of something else is categorized as being ableist.