A Dad's Journey

Father of Autistic Twins Speaks Out

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Addressing an estimated crowd of 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pontiff urged them “to take every opportunity to be witnesses to the peace of the risen Lord, especially with regard to the most fragile and disadvantaged.”  “In this regard, I want to assure a special prayer for World Autism Awareness Day, which is celebrated today,” the pope said.

The Vatican on Monday released a message from Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, for World Autism Day.

“With its works, the Church shows its attention and solicitude for persons with disturbances of the autistic spectrum,” Turkson said.

 Pope Francis 2“There’s a general attitude of welcome present in our communities, although we still struggle to practice real inclusion, for which it’s fundamental that ‘our Christian communities be houses in which every kind of suffering finds compassion, in which every family with its burden of pain and weariness can feel understood and respected in its dignity’,” he said, quoting a 2016 message from Francis.

“I address a special gaze at the families of persons with disturbances of the autistic spectrum, which merit great admiration for accepting, with love, the difficult burden of a child struck with this disturbance,” Turkson said.

Observing that national and international laws requiring assistance for persons with autism are “rarely put into effect,” Turkson said it’s usually families left to provide the bulk of the care. He called for an alliance among health systems, social service providers, and educators, to guarantee care for “the whole arc of life.”

“Persons struck by these disturbances, daily, are faced not only with difficulties resulting from their condition, but also by the main limits that society itself imposes on them, preventing them from being able to realize their true potential,” Turkson said.

Pope Francis will meet with autistic children and their families in a bid to help raise awareness and end the stigma and isolation of people living with autism spectrum disorders.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/pope-meet-autistic-kids-end-stigma-26989583