Sarah Baker Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai

Many have tried, and failed, to produce ‘miracle cures’ for autism.

One such fix, called the Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), was highlighted by Dubai-based organisation Autism UAE on their website. MMS contains an alarming 28 per cent of industrial bleach, and causes fever, vomiting and severely low blood pressure but not, sadly, an end to autism.

About one percent of the world’s population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and it is the fastest-growing developmental disability, according to US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet, adequate awareness about the disorder is lacking.

Sara Baker, autism program head at the Dubai Autism Centre, said: “We are behind when it comes to societal awareness, not just in the UAE but worldwide.”

But dedicated organisations and the UAE government have made an effort to educate people, and to help integrate autistic individuals into the mainstream.

Understanding the disorder is key, when dealing with autism, and societies and schools must be at the front lines of catering to children with special needs, Baker said.

A study published on autism.org found that 63 per cent of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them.

Baker said: “Individuals and families of those that lie on the spectrum of the disorder, need the community to engage with them and reach out to meet them.”

As no two autistic individuals are exactly the same, therapeutic approaches are usually a series of trial and error.

Baker said: “Readiness of mainstream schools to accept such individuals is limited, because in a number of cases, the curriculum needs to be moulded to suit each student... Education and hands-on therapy based approaches are most effective, but only those on the severe end of the spectrum need individual attention, like one-on-one classes.”

After schooling, autistic individuals can be integrated into the workforce. However, here too, individuals with autism often face an uphill battle.

Only 16 per cent of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, and only 32 per cent are in some kind of paid work, according to the country’s National Health Service website (NHS).

Baker said: “Customers and employers need to be educated about the disorder. The more people are aware, the better the chances that we all avoid triggering any unwanted behaviours.”

— The writer is an intern at Gulf News.