|Volunteers and caregivers feed children at the Ha Noi Relief Association for Handicapped. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
HA NOI (VNS) — There are about 200,000 documented cases of children with autism in Viet Nam and the number is growing, according to the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD).
The news was voiced with concern at a workshop co-organised by the APCD and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and communication, said Dr. Vu Song Ha, vice director of the Centre for Creative Initiatives in Health and Development.
At the workshop, researchers said the number of school children with autism was significantly higher than children with other disabilities.
Autism is a widely recognised disability and is listed in many countries' disability laws. Viet Nam, however, has not yet established a legal framework to provide diagnosed children with medical insurance or treatment, said Ha.
Early diagnosis and treatments have proven effective in helping children become active members in society.
Sharing his expertise in developing policies to support children with autism, Masafumi Hizume, an expert from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, said that Japan recognised autism as a disability and had established policies to support children into adulthood.
He said companies that hired workers with autism were given bonuses as an incentive and goods produced by the companies were also given purchase-priority by government procurement offices as a way to help people with autism.
Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Toan, vice director of the Bureau of Social Sponsoring with MOLISA, said that the ministry instructed its officials to guide local agencies how to identify children with autism and providing them with government support. — VNS