As part of its annual community engagement and social responsibility agenda, Abu Dhabi University’s College of Arts and Sciences has launched the first “Art for Autism Competition”.
Sponsored by Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation and in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (AMAF), the competition aims to raise awareness on Autism Spectrum Disorder and celebrate the talents and creativity of children and youths with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well refute misconceptions and tackle myths surrounding this disorder. The competition, which encompasses 2D art and digital photography, targets children between the ages of 6 to 11 years and youths between 12 to 25 years from various autism centers across the United Arab Emirates, with the deadline for submissions scheduled on the 15th of April.
Emphasizing the importance of the competition, Dr. Mohammad Fteiha Chair of Education Department and Assistant Professor of Special Education in ADU’s College of Arts and Sciences explained that it contributes to spreading awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“ASD is classified as the fastest growing serious developmental disorder with the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifying around 1 in 88 American children within the spectrum. This is a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. The ‘Abu Dhabi University Art for Autism Competition’ will highlight the talents and abilities of children with autism dispel many of the negative myths that contribute to delaying their integration in society and their contributions to the nation’s development process. We also hope this initiative contributes to the support provided by special education and autism centers across the UAE”, added Dr. Fteiha.
On his part, Dr. Ghanem Al Bustami Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in ADU’s College of Arts and Sciences said: “Perhaps the most important characteristic of this competition is the University’s keenness in rallying the community’s support to refute many of the misconceptions and negative beliefs that have spread about individuals with autism. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are characterized in varying degrees by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Experts believe that Autism presents itself during the first three years of a person’s life. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills. This gives the wrong impression to those who deal with individuals with ASD, which can be avoided through the dissemination of information, raising awareness and encouraging creative interaction with these individuals.”