The public is being urged to accept and include children on the autism spectrum as part of a campaign being beamed across Dubai.
Dubai Autism Centre’s message, “Accept me the way I am. I am a child with autism,” appears on thousands of digital signs and billboards.
The inclusivity campaign is featured on 5,300 screens across the Roads and Transport Authority’s metro, tram and bus network, and on billboards in Enoc petrol stations and malls in the emirate.
April is traditionally Autism Awareness Month, which is celebrated around the world.
This month, Dubai landmarks lit up in blue in support of the campaign, and UAE company bosses said they were proud to take part.
Saif Al Falasi, group chief executive of Enoc, said the campaign helps to build greater understanding of the condition.
“Our leadership envisions that everyone has equal access to opportunities, and we are committed to supporting initiatives that help build a happier and inclusive society,” Mr Al Falasi said.
Mohammed Al Emadi, director general and board member of Dubai Autism Centre, said he valued the support offered by businesses for the campaign, which aims to improve “awareness about the needs of individuals with autism and their families”.
Mr Al Emadi said the UAE Cabinet's decision to adopt the National Policy for People with Autism “embodies the commitment of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to support people with autism”.
He said the government’s efforts “laid the foundations for an inclusive society that empowers and ensures a good life for all people of determination”.
One in 160 children globally are believed to on the autism spectrum, the World Health Organisation says.
The condition is characterised by difficulty in communication and restrictive or repetitive behaviour.
Experts say symptoms can include: repetitive speech or phrases; lack of imitation of other people’s actions and emotions; atypical, repetitive and restricted play; engaging in repetitive movement such as hand flapping or finger flicking; or oversensitivity to sound.
Treatment includes one-on-one behaviour therapy or training for parents to help enhance their children’s social skills.