"If we can accept these children and believe in them, we will find Syria’s Messi and Syria’s Einstein." A concert held by people in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli attempts to help children with autism and integrate them into society.
In an attempt to remove the stigma surrounding autism in Syria, several civil society organisations in the city of Qamishli have come together to hold a concert, which seeks to educate people on the importance of integrating children affected with autism into society. The concert included musical and visual presentations for families and children to enjoy while learning about methods of reintegration.
“You have to deal with these kids exceptionally. After visiting the centre yesterday, I‘ve now noticed that the kids have adapted well,” said Reber Wahid, a special needs ambassador and Kurdish musician from Qamishli. “These children need special treatment away from stress and tension. In the end, these are our children, and we are in their service always and forever.
According to the organisers of this concert, the main idea that they wanted to convey to attendees is that autism is not a disability but rather a condition that can be treated and alleviated. As a result, these children should not be seen as a burden on society, but rather individuals who can significantly contribute to society.
“These children used to be trapped in a corner,” said Maisam al-Hasriya, an autism specialist. “I always ask where Syria’s Messi is? Where is Syria’s Einstein? If we can accept these children and believe in them, we will find Syria’s Messi and Syria’s Einstein.”
According to al-Hasriya, many children in Syria have been misdiagnosed by doctors due to the lack of specialists in the country. As a result, individuals like her are attempting to diagnose these children in a scientific and internationally-accredited manner to provide them with the right treatment.
Throughout the Middle East, mental health treatment is seen as a very taboo subject due to the lack of proper education on the topic. However, as organisations continue to normalise the discussion of these issues, they hope they can reverse the taboo surrounding it so that individuals can receive proper treatment for their conditions.