In the annual observance of World Autism Awareness Day, the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) today released six commemorative postage stamps and two collectible envelopes dedicated to autism awareness, with images created by artists who have been diagnosed with autism.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the stamps will send a powerful message to people around the world that talent and creativity live inside all of us even with people with autism.
The UN is the only organization in the world which is neither a country nor a territory that is allowed to issue postage stamps. It is the only postal authority to issue stamps in three different currencies either in the United States dollar, the Swiss franc and the euro.
UN Photo/Mark Garten
UNPA’s chief David Failor says the selection process enabled the agency to discover the many hidden talents that people diagnosed with autism have.
Mr. Failor says the best part of the process is discovering the talents of people with autism have and working with their families, their relatives and their supporters.
UNPA originally intended to pick three designs to feature on each of the three denominations that it issues stamps for. However, the artwork received was so exemplary that it decided to feature eight designs from among the 200 different entries of artwork it received.
Reports say the stamps will go on sale in New York, Vienna and Geneva beginning on April 2.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ban says the annual observance of World Autism Awareness Day should spur global action to combat the “unacceptable” discrimination, abuse and isolation that people with the disorder and their loved ones face.
“Autism is not limited to a single region or a country; it is a worldwide challenge that requires global action.” – Mr. Ban
People with autism are equal citizens who should enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms, Mr. Ban added.
In December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day in an effort to draw attention to a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions around the globe.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism and its associated behaviors have been estimated to occur in 1 in 150 births, Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of autism’s occurrence.
In his message, Mr. Ban noted that although developmental disabilities such as autism begin in childhood, they persist throughout a person’s life.
He stresses that UN’s work with and for people with autism should not be limited to early identification and treatment. It should include therapies, educational plans and other steps that lead us towards sustained, lifelong engagement.
Reaching out to people with autism spectrum disorders requires global political commitment and better international cooperation, especially in sharing good practices, Mr. Ban noted.
UN reports that the number of children and people with autistic conditions continues to rise in all countries and racial, ethnic and social groups, but awareness remained low despite the recognition of autistic conditions among the scientific, health and care communities.
UN urges for the need to support parents, create jobs for individuals with autism based on their skills and strengths, and improve public education to better meet the needs of students with autism. Such steps can benefit society and enrich the lives of people with autism and their loved ones.