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Autism figures lacking

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Friday, April 04, 2014

PRESIDENT Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has requested government agencies to help collate data on autism so that more meaningful analysis could be made to support people living with the sickness.

In a message to students, teachers and parents who gathered at the Suva Special Education School on Wednesday to mark World Autism Day celebrations, Ratu Epeli said: "There are 67 million people worldwide with autism and studies have shown and proven that there are more children diagnosed with autism than with diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined.

"Unfortunately, in Fiji we do not have the statistics to indicate how many children or adults live with autism.

"The numbers attending special schools have been increasing which goes to show there are many more unidentified children with autism in the community."

Autism can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor co-ordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances

Ratu Epeli said increasing awareness of autism in Fiji was the people's role as advocates.

"Today it is our role to educate the public and community so they may have a better understanding of autism.

"We are here this morning not only to celebrate the fact that we are aware of autism but also to acknowledge that due to much painstaking research we now also possess a better knowledge of autism."

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