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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Walk aims to raise funds and awareness of autism

More than 1,000 people are expected to participate in 'A Walk for a Walk' event next month to raise awareness of the seventh annual autism walk later this year.

FUJAIRAH // More than 1,000 people are expected to participate in the “A Walk for a Walk” event next month to raise awareness of the seventh annual autism walk later this year.

Held each April in Dubai, the Emirates Walk for Autism first took place in 2009 after an initiative by Dr Nahida Nasseri and the Emirates Red Crescent to help in funding research and to educate the public about the condition.

The Fujairah event will be on February 20 at the Corniche.

“Autism puts immense financial and emotional strain on affected families,” said Dr Nasseri. “We hope that every little bit we do helps the families to become more aware of autism and to learn ways to cope through assistance provided by specialist schools and medical professionals.

“Our aim is to raise awareness about autism to the public and to work together to address their needs, given that one in 10 families in UAE is affected.”

Dr Ali Ahmed Banihamour, founder and chief executive of My Clinic magazine, said he hoped more organisations would include autism awareness in their corporate social responsibility programmes. He also wanted to see more funding for research to enhance therapies and to help autistic children get places in the right schools with the right support, instead of being forced to attend mainstream schools.

Aisha Yousef, editor of My Clinic and En Route Middle East, started the event in Fujairah after meeting Dr Nasseri. The objective is to encourage people to be more supportive and to understand the difficulty autistic children face when their routine or environment is changed.

Earlier this week Dubai Health Authority hosted the Inspirational Modern Approaches to Autism Spectrum Disorder conference. Attended by more than 170 people, including parents, teachers and education, health and special needs professionals, the conference had six sessions, followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A session.

It aimed to help raise awareness among the community by allowing international specialists to share their knowledge with the audience on the latest methods and approaches on the treatment of autism.

rhaza@thenational.ae