Adventist Leaders in Bangladesh Host First Autism Awareness Event

Adventist church leaders in Bangladesh organized a union-wide campaign to celebrate World Autism Day on April 2. Students and staff from Adventist schools across the country, as well as leaders from the Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission (BAUM) in Dhaka, hosted parades, organized community discussions and visited families with autistic children.

These approximately 300 individuals united in an effort to raise local awareness and offer much-needed support for special needs families in partnership with the Society for the Welfare of Autistic Children. In some communities, special needs children such as those with autism are stigmatized in spite of the country’s ongoing efforts to provided needed assistance.

This year Adventists joined these efforts with a combination of large-scale awareness programs such as multiple Adventist-hosted parades and community discussions held in various cities and towns in Bangladesh. The parades provide an opportunity to gain attention for awareness programs and bring autism education to those who might not attend awareness training. The discussion programs offer up-to-date information about autism and how communities can better meet the needs of autistic children and adults. There are also opportunities to encourage inclusion rather than shunning, particularly in communities that may not yet fully accept those with special needs.

To model how individuals can support special needs families, Adventist leaders visited autistic children and their families in their homes. They brought gifts and clothing. While these were welcomed, the parents seemed to most appreciate the time spent listening to their experiences and challenges as they seek acceptance and support in their communities.

For Mahuya Roy, BAUM Special Needs Ministry Coordinator, it strengthened her resolve to encourage Adventists to act on behalf of these families. “Bangladesh may be a developing country but the autism rate is increasing here,” she said. “As a church, we must each do what we can to raise awareness so we can encourage acceptance, understanding and love for these special children,” she added.

Church administrators such as BAUM President Myun Ju Lee agree. “We must do as much as possible for the autistic children of our church and our society,” he urged. This was his motivation for helping to lead BAUM’s autism awareness parade in Dhaka.

According to Larry Evans, Assistant to the General Conference President for the Deaf and Special Needs Ministries, this first-ever autism awareness event in Bangladesh is significant not only for future special needs ministry, but for the focus of local churches and members. “Your church, your community, will never be able to create a culture that will be perfect for every child or every adult with every conceivable special need. But every church and community can do something to welcome more families impacted by a disability or special need—including autism,” he encouraged.

Bangladesh is home to almost 30,000 Seventh-day Adventist church members in over 120 churches and one of the 14 countries in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division.

This article was written by Teresa Costello, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, with additional reporting by Eshita Mondol, BAUM, and originally appeared on the Adventist News Network. Image courtesy of ANN.

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The goals of treatment for autism are to maximize functioning, move the child toward autonomy and improve the quality of life. Specific goals include improving social functioning and play skills, improving communication skills, improving adaptive skills, decreasing negative behaviors and promoting academic functioning and cognition in addition to treating co-morbid psychiatric disorders.

Is our GC leadership willing to set aside enough financial resources to meet these treatment goals? My experience is our elementary schools and academies do not have enough financial resources to meet the needs of the average student, much more that of those with autism.


I hope North American Division does something similar.

The funds available to help children on the autistic spectrum, are in my experience very limited. Schools are more inclined to invest in flashy mission trips than in autistic people. Some young people that I know on the spectrum are absolutely brilliant, but the ability of society to tap into this brilliance is limited by its investment.


I was a victim of this “flashy mission trips.” I was a yearly contributor to these trips at our local SDA academy until my son’s turn came. He was turned down so some preferred faculties can continue to take their children with them although their children have been with them many times in the past. It did not stop until I went to our local conference president and ed secretary to bring up my concern. These faculties even lied claiming these trips were under the auspices of the conference instead of the academies. Our conference president had to take these faculties to the carpet, then asked me to keep quiet until he could rectify the system.


More power to these church leaders. They are doing the right thing–seeking to make the world a better place, one at a time. Above and beyond theology and the ability to return a sizeable tithe. The world needs this level of love, more then 1844 and the Day of Atonement.

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They should change the name from Autism Awareness to Vaccination Awareness. Here’s the best proof (epidemiological) that it’s related to vaccinations, also the Quakers or Mennonites who don’t vaccinate and don’t have the problem--
My credentials are MD, MPH, taught Health Science at Loma Linda.
It’s time to wake up. We reared six kids with NO vaccinations and one daughter was on the cover of a fitness magazine. The CDC owns patents on many vaccines. It’s about $$$$.

Check this out. AACAP continues to support children’s vaccination and the society’s policy statement reports “No causal association between vaccinations and autism” based on numerous studies.

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