Autistic children real heroes: Ali Zafar

LAHORE: Eminent singer, actor and writer Ali Zafar has said that persons suffering from autism are the real heroes and superstars.

“They have talent to see and analyse things from a different and unique perspective. They can be exceptionally good with music, arts and computers. We must try to remove stigma associated with disabilities”, said Ali Zafar while talking to media at an awareness walk organised by the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Welfare Trust in connection with the 12th World Autism Awareness Day celebrated throughout the world with a message to speak out against discrimination and celebrate the diversity of our global community.

Ali Zafar along with ASD Welfare Trust Chairperson Ms Rukhsana Shah led the walk which was taken out from Children’s Library Complex (CLC) and ended at the Governor’s House, The Mall. A large number of students, teachers, parents and doctors participated in the walk to raise awareness about the disorder.

Addressing the walk participants, Ali Zafar said “We must spread awareness to help support and understand the special needs of those diagnosed with autism. They must be provided with appropriate education and the means to thrive and reach their highest potential.”

The singer said that they needed to create an inclusive society in Pakistan where physical barriers were eliminated and the persons with disabilities were included in every sphere of social, economic and political activities.

Rukhsana Shah highlighted the lack of awareness about autism in society, saying that a recent survey in a leading college in Lahore revealed that almost no students studying in the college had even heard of autism. “Similar have been the results of such surveys in other academic institutions in the country. Yet autism is the fastest-growing neurological disorder in the world, with one out of 60 children being diagnosed with this condition last year.

In Pakistan, very little is known about autism and other neurological disorders even among medical professionals,” she added.

She said the autistic children, just characterised by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviours, could have superb abilities in music, machines etc. “It’s just we need to explore their potentials,” she added. She laid a stress on developing more support, awareness, understanding and improved standards of education for these lovely angels.

Senior Clinical Psychologist of ASD Welfare Trust Ms Farah Amanat said there was no medicine in the world to cure autism; the life of people suffering from autism could only be improved by training, love and care. She elaborated the symptoms of the disease, including difficulty in mixing with other children, insistence on sameness, resistance to changes in routine, inappropriate laughing and giggling, no fear of dangers, little or no eye contact, sustained odd play, apparent insensitivity to pain, echolalia (repeating words or phrases in place of normal language), remaining alone, spinning objects, non-responsive to verbal cues and acting as deaf.

Public health: Punjab Minister for Food Samiullah Chaudhry has said that food safety is a vital comportment in food industry so controlling pollution and wrong practices from food production and processing was crucial for the consumers’ health.

Addressing a seminar jointly organised by Pakistan Council on Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) and a beverage company on ‘Food Safety; A Shared Responsibility’ to raise awareness about food safety and served as a forum for collaboration between some of the key stakeholders in the food value chain, he said the Punjab government through Punjab Food Authority was seriously working to maintain purity of food in the whole process with limited resources.

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