The basic human rights of autistic people are not being met, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, a world expert on autism, told the United Nations in New York today, to mark Autism Awareness Week.
In his keynote speech, Professor Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, argued that even with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities having been adopted in 2006, people with autism still do not enjoy human rights to the same extent as everyone else.
At least 1% of the world’s population is on the autism spectrum, which equates to some 70 million people with autism on the planet. Autism is a spectrum of neurological disabilities involving difficulties with social relationships, communication, adjusting to unexpected change, dealing with ambiguity, and entailing sensory hypersensitivity and anxiety. Autism also leads to a different perceptual and learning style, so that the person has a preference for detail, and develops unusually narrow interests, and an unusually strong preference for facts, patterns, repetition and routine.
“People with autism account for a significant minority of the population worldwide, yet we are failing them in so many respects,” he said. “This creates barriers to their participation in society and to their autonomy that must be addressed. We have had a UN Convention to support people with disabilities for over 10 years now and yet we still are not fulfilling their basic human rights.” […]