|Vatican official urges greater efforts to help those with autism|
|Catholic News Service photo|
J.T. Dulany, the 2012 valedictorian at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in the Baltimore suburb of Essex, Md., is pictured in a June 1 photo. Dulany, 19, who is legally blind and has a mild form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome, delivered the valedictorian address at his graduation ceremony. He held a 4.4 GPA in his senior year and a cumulative 4.19 GPA.
Catholic News ServiceVATICAN CITY — While it may be a huge challenge, the Catholic Church must find ways to offer support to families with a child who has autism, include people with autism in church activities and fight the prejudice surrounding the learning disability, a Vatican official said.
The church's efforts must be "directed toward ensuring that hope is not extinguished" in either persons with an autism disorder or in their family members, said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.
In a message released April 2, the day the United Nations marks as World Autism Awareness Day, the archbishop announced that his office's annual international conference would be dedicated to autism-spectrum disorders.
The three-day meeting in November will bring together physicians, scientists, researchers, pastors, parents and volunteers to discuss practical ways to help people with autism and their families, the archbishop said.
The goal is to increase people's sense of hope, giving them strength to combat the temptations of discouragement and surrender, he said.
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