Overcoming isolation and the stigma of Autism. These were some of the themes of a three day Vatican conference with hundreds of families and children affected by the disorder.
In his address, Pope Francis called on governments, institutions and Christian communities to respond to the special needs of these families.
"First and foremost, families must feel welcomed without shame and without withdrawing into solitude. It's a Cross.”
The conference brought together over 600 experts from 57 countries. The Pope emphasized that one doesn't need to be an expert to help.
"We can contribute to breaking down the isolation and, in many cases, the stigma that burdens people with autism spectrum disorders, and just as often their families.”
Families, children and even adults with autism shared their experiences during the conference. Special attention was given the unique gifts, people with autism often have. The Pope also addressed some words to researchers.
"Moreover, I want to encourage the hard work of academics and researchers, so that they may discover therapies and support tools, to help and heal and, above all, prevent the onset of these conditions as soon as possible.”
In the U.S alone, it's estimated that roughly 36,000 of every 4 million children, will be born with Autism.