Spearheaded by Halabja Autism Center

Halabja launches week-long awareness campaign on autism

HALABJA – Halabja is hosting its inaugural week-long autism awareness campaign, a pioneering effort in the city to educate the public about autism spectrum disorders and reduce social stigmas.

The Kurdistan Region has documented nearly 4,000 autism cases, as reported by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Awara Nawroz, the director of the Autism Center in Halabja, shared with 964media that the campaign is being spearheaded by four dedicated teams, comprising trainers and educators from the center.

“This initiative is reaching educational institutions, governmental entities, and non-governmental organizations across the Halabja governorate,” Nawroz said.

In combating the social stigmas around autism, awareness and education are paramount. Misconceptions can isolate and marginalize individuals with the condition. Efforts to inform and engage the public are crucial for fostering an inclusive society where people with autism are recognized for their unique strengths and potential.

On the campaign’s opening day, teams targeted numerous educational and health facilities in Halabja’s central areas and the Khurmal, Tawella, and Biyara districts, distributing informative brochures.

Nawroz highlighted, “Our center has registered fewer than 100 cases to date. Through this campaign, we aim to equip our community with vital knowledge about autism’s indicators, causes, and available treatments.”Approximately two months prior, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in the Kurdistan Region initiated a thorough evaluation of autism services provided by both public and private centers, declaring that any center failing to meet its obligations would face license revocation.

Kwestan Mohammed, the Labor and Social Affairs Minister, announced this policy in January during a visit to the Directorate General of Social Care and Development in Sulaymaniyah.

“Centers neglecting their duties will see their permits revoked,” the minister’s office declared.

In Sulaymaniyah, there is one public autism center, in addition to over five private entities operating in this field.

Minister Mohammed stated that a specialized committee, including psychologists and other experts, will inspect these centers. This oversight will extend throughout the Kurdistan Region, encompassing all centers accredited by the Health and Labor and Social Affairs Ministries.

This effort is part of a broader strategy that encompasses the entire Kurdistan Region, targeting all establishments sanctioned by the Ministries of Health, and Labor and Social Affairs.

The region is home to around 40 autism centers, both public and private. Recent expansions have introduced additional facilities in diverse locales such as Semel, Koya, Baziyan, and Akre, reflecting a growing recognition of the need for comprehensive autism support services.

In response to the identification of more than 4,000 autism cases within the region, the Ministries of Labor and Social Affairs are spearheading the establishment of public autism centers in every district. This expansion underscores a commitment to accessible care and support for those affected by autism.

Aryan Ahmed, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, conveyed to 964media the ministry’s intention to inaugurate autism training centers in each district to serve children with the condition. “These facilities will provide services at no cost, thanks to the expertise of specially trained autism care personnel. Our goal is to offer normalization training tailored to these children, ensuring each center is equipped with the necessary skilled staff,” Ahmed elaborated.

He further pointed out the particular struggles of parents, especially those in civil service, who often find it challenging to juggle their duties or cover the costs associated with private care facilities. The establishment of these public centers aims to alleviate the financial and logistical pressures faced by these families, making autism care more accessible and supportive.

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental condition marked by challenges in social interaction, speech, and nonverbal communication, coupled with unique strengths and differences among those affected. Centers like those expanding across the Kurdistan Region are vital, providing a spectrum of services that include behavioral therapy, social skills training, speech and language therapy, and support for families. Tailored to meet individual needs, these centers offer essential resources and guidance, empowering those with autism to navigate their world more effectively and embrace their full potential.

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