WHO representative Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, Consultant Paediatrician Dr. Samanmali Sumanasena, Deputy Director General Health Services Dr. Champika Wickramasinghe, CDB MD/CEO Mahesh Nanayakkara and Consultant Child Psychiatrist Prof. Hemamali Perera at the campaign launch
Citizens Development Business Finance PLC (CDB) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Association for Child Development (SLACD) launched an islandwide autism awareness campaign to ensure that every child with autism receives early detection and attention, reducing the negative impact that autism has on their lives.
The autism awareness campaign, the flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) project being mooted by CDB with the collaboration of SLACD, was inaugurated at the CDB auditorium to coincide with CDB’s 20th anniversary. The campaign will gain added value with the establishment of an Autism Trust Fund to ensure sustainability of
Shedding light on the complexity of autism and the challenges children with autism face, Director General of Health Services Dr. Palitha Mahipala reiterated, “Every child with autism matters; find them early and count all of them in.”
Given that autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others within social contexts and is reported to impact one in 93 people with boys being more likely to be affected than girls, Consultant Child Psychiatrist Professor Hemamali Perera stated that it is vital “to give these children a chance to grow”.
If autism is detected in a child prior to the age of two, there will be positive impacts on the child, improving cognitive, behavioural and inter-personal development dramatically.
CDB Managing Director and CEO Mahesh Nanayakkara elucidated the reasoning behind CDB making the autism awareness campaign its flagship CSR project. “This complex neuro-developmental disorder is determined at time of birth although it becomes more evident as the child grows older, given that social relationships and language development are hampered. Therefore, the parents play a vital role in recognizing this condition early and they can make timely presentations to the health services. However, this is not happening in Sri Lanka at present due to the lack of public awareness.”
Nanayakkara added that CDB’s involvement in the project is due to the magnanimity of this disorder in Sri Lanka, which can easily be managed with early detection and more awareness among the public about
“Creating awareness will instigate timely interventions for early detection prompting an improvement of the child’s functional outcome and also bring about a better understanding of