KUWAIT, Apr 1 Kuwait is marking World Autism Awareness Day, which falls on Apr 2, to spread knowledge about the needs of the increasing number of autistic patients around the world.

The autism day was first launched by the UN’s General Assembly in 2007, to encourage NGO’s and international organisations to bring awareness to people towards the disease, and support education programmes for patients.

The event also aims to showcase challenges facing autistic people, and to stress that they have rights equal to all society members, according to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Kuwait pays huge attention towards caring for people with special needs, issuing Law 8/2010 to safeguard the rights of this category of society. The country’s organisations are continuously exerting efforts to create a better life for disabled people, mainly autistic patients, who are estimated to be between 2,000 and 2,500 in Kuwait.

In 1994, the Kuwait Centre for Autism was established as a Waqf (endowment) project, by the Kuwaiti Public Awqaf Foundation, with both the Ministry of Education and individual philanthropists pitching in later on, to furbish the centre and improve its services.

The centre was the first specialised institution in this field in the Arab World. The centre’s activities and services span beyond Kuwait to the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab countries.

It is the meeting place and organiser of gatherings of specialists, researchers and training courses, receiving the first ISO awards for institutions in this field in the Middle East. Moreover, Applied Behaviour Centre of Kuwait (ABC), is another body which treats autistic children through early intervention services and educational programmes.

Autism is a form of mental disability, caused by a neurological disorder, which develops early, before three years of age. The disease interferes with the patient’s social interaction abilities and usually affects males more than females.

The UN estimates the number of unemployed autistic people at 80 percent around the world. The patients are usually rejected when applying for jobs, as those in charge assume that these patients can’t do well in a working environment.

People usually disregard, or are unaware of the fact that autistic patients have many characteristics, including a thorough recognition of details, strong visual skills, long-term memory, along with artistic, musical and mathematical abilities, which could make them suitable for many jobs, such as data entry, linguistic review and software testing.