A workshop on autism in Vietnam in Hanoi on April 1 (Photo:baotintuc.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – People with autism face barriers to social inclusion without equal access to healthcare services, education and employment, as heard at the workshop “Autism in Vietnam – Current situation and challenges” in Hanoi on April 1.

The workshop was held by the Vietnam Autism Network (VAN) and Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD) as part of a series of events to mark World Autism Awareness Day (April 2).

The Department of Social Assistance at the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs estimated that Vietnam currently has about 200,000 people living with autism spectrum disorder or autism.

Speaking at the workshop, Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam said the law on persons with disabilities recognises the rights and equality of opportunity for disabled people, including those with autism. Despite that, many Vietnamese are not familiar with the concept of autism.

Attendees to the workshop pointed out that today, autism is not only a health issue but also a matter of development. If people with autism are not identified and provided help in developing social skills and community involvement at the early stage, they can later become isolated and a burden to their family and society.

These people are often confronted with social discrimination related to their condition and even their families think of them as shameful.

The attendees voiced the necessity for people with autism to be treated equally and for their distinctive needs to be satisfied properly.

VAN President Hoang Ngoc Bich noted that people with autism, among 7.2 million people with disabilities in Vietnam, need support, respect and love to have a normal life like others.-VNA