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12th International Conference for Autism Research concludes in Abu Dhabi

12th International Conference for Autism Research concludes in Abu Dhabi
8 May 2024 14:00


The International Conference on Advancements in Autism Research, has concluded in Abu Dhabi. Held under the theme Challenges and Solutions, the event emphasised the need to be held regularly every year.

The conference called upon experts, scientists, specialists, practitioners, parents, and early coordination between universities and relevant scientific centres. It stressed the importance of enhancing scientific research related to biomarkers for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the highest international level to achieve accreditation for research results. Additionally, it highlighted the importance of academic communication among all relevant faculties to document and exchange experiences and information on the latest research developments related to autism spectrum disorder.

At the conclusion of the conference, participants, including experts and specialists in behavioural modification, biomedical sciences, and related fields, along with representatives from over 20 countries worldwide, extended their deepest gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination (ZHO), for sponsoring the conference for the second consecutive year. They praised the care and rehabilitation provided to people of determination in the UAE, as well as the programmes offered by ZHO for these groups through its centres across Abu Dhabi.

The conference, in its 12th edition, was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ZHO, and organised by ZHO in collaboration and coordination with ADNOC, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), and Lotus Holistic Abu Dhabi at Abu Dhabi Energy Centre.

Abdullah Abdulali Al Hamidan, Secretary-General of ZHO, said he was happy with the success of the conference, and extended his thanks to ADNOC, SEHA and Lotus Holistic Abu Dhabi, as well as all sponsoring institutions, committees, and conference organisers.

He said the conference was distinguished by its outcomes and recommendations, which will be implemented in the next phase through the participation of stakeholders who will develop an action plan for their execution.

Speaking on behalf of Abdullah Abdulali Al Hamidan at the closing session, Nafea Al Hammadi, Executive Director of Support Services Sector at ZHO, highlighted the intensive efforts made during the conference to present and discuss the latest developments in autism research. This included about 20 sessions, 41 specialised workshops, 91 lectures, and several dialogues with parents and decision-makers, involving more than 100 speakers from more than 20 countries specialising in behavioural modification, biomedical sciences, and related fields.

Al Hammadi said that these efforts will greatly enhance awareness and knowledge among all attendees and participants, contributing to improving the level of services provided to individuals with ADS, their families, and caregivers.

The conference called for the preparation of a survey study to enumerate cases of autism at national level, disclosing multiple cases for use in studies and research. It advocated for the increased use of artificial intelligence in educating children with autism as a means of diagnosis and education. Moreover, it urged for intensified awareness programmes for all segments of society, identifying early warning signs for newborns to acquaint them with early symptoms of ASD.

The conference highlighted the necessity of working to protect children with autism and guiding students on how to interact with this group. It advocated for activating educational institutions to care for integrating children with autism into mainstream schools, providing supportive personnel for educational integration, especially the accompanying teachers, and encouraging educational programmes across various disciplines to work with autistic children.

Furthermore, the conference called for the application of preliminary survey forms by health units to identify the most severe cases of ASD and refer them for diagnosis and early intervention services. It advocated for the formation of representative research groups comprising various specialists willing to collaborate from different countries in the field of autism research and forming teams with integrated specialties.

The conference also recommended the establishment of a laboratory for conducting medical analyses based on scientifically endorsed and published biological indicators in high-impact scientific journals. It stressed the importance of a balanced healthy diet during pregnancy and early years and avoiding cesarean section except in necessary cases.

Conference participants called for providing suitable employment opportunities for autistic students to demonstrate their competence according to labor market requirements, promoting talents and hobbies, and showcasing the works of outstanding individuals in various scientific, educational, sports, and artistic fields. Additionally, they advocated for conducting workshops and lectures for professionals in the autism field on the mental health of parents and positive interaction with children, empowering understanding of their needs. 

Dr Heba Hegres, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations, expressed her sincere thanks and appreciation to the UAE. She thanked ZHO for sponsoring, sustaining, and organising the conference. Dr Heba Hegres also congratulated ZHO on the decision to prepare and publish the first peer-reviewed and specialised scientific journal on autism, adhering to global scientific and academic standards.

In a press statement, Dr Heba Hegres emphasised the importance of the conference topics regarding the crucial and central role of the family in the lives of individuals with autism and people with disabilities in general, to provide them with support and advocacy without disrupting their independent living. In this context, she said her strong belief in this role and her determination to conduct an independent study on this topic. She also praised the scientific effort put forth in the research presented at the conference, highlighting its great importance in affirming societal commitment to hidden cases, which require advanced and rapid efforts internally and externally.

Source: Aletihad - Abu Dhabi
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