The Conference

About The Conference

The International Conference on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders to be hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh, Ministry of Health of Bhutan with the technical support of Shuchona Foundation (previously known as Global Autism), Ability Bhutan Society (ABS), and World Health Organization South-East Asia Regional Office, is planned from the 19-21st April, 2017.

The overall theme of the conference will be developing effective and sustainable multi-sectorial programs for individuals, families and communities living with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

The Conference, including all technical sessions, and opening and closing ceremony will be held at the Royal Banquet Hall in Thimphu. Participants will be duly notified if they are any changes.

Objectives

The objectives of the conference are:

  1. Provide a platform for policy-makers to engage with all stakeholders
    • Discourse among policy-makers, multi-sectorial experts and direct stakeholders
    • Soliciting commitment for the implementation of international resolutions on autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders
    • Presenting WHO’s South East Asia Regional Strategy on Autism Spectrum Disorder
  2. Sharing and learning best practices for national-level development and deployment of programs:
    • Example: Bangladesh’s National Strategic Plan for Neuro developmental Disorders 2016-2021 as a model for low-resource countries
  3. Promoting cooperation and partnerships for development of effective and sustainable programs
    • Advancing the Global Initiative on Autism (GIA)
    • Recommending a holistic set of guidelines and specific actions for implementing UN and WHA Resolutions.

Background

In developing countries, particularly for Persons with disabilities (PWD) living in poverty, their hardship is further compounded by poor infrastructure, shortage of trained professionals, lack of reliable data, evidence based intervention programs and research centers. Existing services, often lack standardization (in both management modalities and capacity of professionals) are limited to urban settings and usually beyond the financial reach of most families. There is a lack of coordinated action from governments, which address issues throughout the individual’s life, resulting in further marginalization and exclusion, and increase in their vulnerability. In addition to constraining their lives, exclusion of PWDs has a debilitating effect on their societies as well. There have been studies conducted to gauge the severity of the impact of this exclusion on economies. For instance, the World Bank estimated in 2008 the annual cost of disability in Bangladesh (computed from the forgone income of PWDs and their caregivers as a result of missing out on educational and employment opportunities) to be USD 1.2 billion – about 1.7% of GDP.

The World Health Organization has reported a global prevalence of Autism as 1 in 160 while recent studies in the United States and other countries point to much higher rates of occurrence. Moreover, it is also estimated that more than 80% of adults with autism are unemployed. Employment opportunities for PWDs are often very limited in number and restrictive in nature (such as informal jobs). Rather, they are more likely to be ‘underemployed’ – with low salaries, part-time jobs and a minimal scope for career advancement. Experts recognized that Bangladesh is undoubtedly in the phase of paradigm shifting in terms of viewing children as having disabilities to viewing their ‘abilities’. The development dynamics are gradually advancing from a welfare approach to a more rights-based approach, where persons with disabilities are concerned.

In July of 2011 in Dhaka, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) hosted the largest and most high-profile international conference that has ever been held for a single psychological disability, which resulted in the passing of the Dhaka Declaration on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities. This event sparked the development of an inter-ministerial committee on NDDs, a mapping of existing resources and gaps in services for NDDs, and the formation of a Strategic and Convergent Action Plan on Autism and NDDs (SCAPAND) that addresses the life-cycle needs of persons with these disorders. In August 2012, high level government officials were brought together to develop a multi-pronged strategy which led to the formation of a National Steering Committee on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, comprising members of eight relevant ministries and divisions embedded in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The ministries were Social Welfare, Education, Primary & Mass Education, Labor and Employment, Local Government, Women and Children’s Affairs, and Finance.This committee now comprises 16 ministries/divisions of the Government of Bangladesh.

About Neurodevelopmental Disorders(NDDs)

There is sufficient evidence researched all over the world that indicates that persons with disabilities (PWDs) are often more prone to suffering economic and social difficulties and are at a greater risk of poverty. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (NDDs) not only debilitate the life of the affected individual, but also significantly impact the social, economic and emotional well being of the family. According to the DSM-V, NDDs are a group of conditions with onset in the developmental period, which continue throughout an individual’s lifetime. The disorders typically manifest early in development, often before the child enters grade school, and are characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning. These brain function deficits can affect a person’s emotions and memory, as well as his or her ability to learn, socialize, and maintain self-control. The range of developmental deficits varies from very specific limitations of learning or control of executive functions to global impairments of social skills or intelligence.

International Commitments

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the founding treaty that changes our understanding of how persons with disabilities should be treated. It gives a voice and rights to those that had a limited influence in the past. Bangladesh has signed both the UNCRPD, and its Optional Protocol and disability issues are an integral part of all its national strategies for sustainable development. On September 7, 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) at its fifth meeting of the regional committee at Yogyakarta, Indonesia, passed Resolution No. SEA/RC65/R8 “Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and developmental disabilities”. In that meeting, the committee requested the regional director to support the activities of autism-related networks, including the South-East Asia Autism Network (SAAN).

Through Bangladesh’s leadership and 71 co-sponsoring member countries, UN Resolution No. 67/82 “Addressing the socio-economic needs of individuals, families and societies affected by autism spectrum disorders, developmental disorders and associated disabilities” was adopted on December 12, 2012 at the 53rd Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. At the request of the Government of Bangladesh, the State of Qatar proposed, WHO Resolution No. WHA67.8 “Comprehensive and Coordinated Efforts for the Management of Autism Spectrum Disorders” which was adopted on May 24, 2014, co-sponsored by more than 50 countries and endorsed by all at the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA). Finally, on September 11, 2014, the Global Initiative on Autism (GIA) was launched at the 67th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh at a side event titled “Addressing Autism through Partnerships: A Round-table Discussion for the Development of a Multifaceted Action Plan”. It is clear that the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities need a global systematized response, which is coordinated, structured, well planned and feasible for low resource countries. Through international collaboration and partnerships with governments, organizations, experts and families, a more inclusive global community can be achieved.

Call for Posters

As an attendee of the upcoming International Conference on Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders 2017 (ANDD2017) you are invited to prepare a poster. While there may not be a set time allocated for poster presentations, the organizers will ensure that your poster (if requirements are met) is exhibited throughout the Conference venue.

At ANDD2017, the Organizers wish to showcase the individual stories of persons with neurodevelopmental disorders - their struggles, their achievements, their interests/talents, just to name a few. If you or your organization are interested in making a poster at ANDD2017 on the above topic, please take note of the information below.

The poster may consist of text, images and even art-work. Please make sure that the poster is printed in portrait orientation in A0 size (1189mm x 841mm/ 46.8inch x 33.1 inch), as per this template.

In order to ensure uniformity, please use this for the footer in your poster (as per the template).

Posters are limited to one per individual/organization. Please send a camera-ready PDF version of your poster prior to printing, to be approved by the Scientific Committee of the Conference. The deadline for receiving the camera-ready PDF version is 3rd March 2017.

For any queries and for submission of posters, please email us at ANDD2017@shuchona.org with “ANDD2017 Poster” as the subject.

Workshop Synopses

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