ISLAMABAD-Tuxedos, bow ties and men in black dominated a gathering at a fund raiser gala dinner on the invitation of Aziz Bolani, CEO- South and Central Asia Serena Hotels and Stefano Pontecorvo, Ambassador of Republic of Italy. The raison d’etre was to witness a performance by an internationally acclaimed Italian Folk Rock Ensemble “Compagnia SoleLuna.” The renowned Neapolitan Folk Rock group has an extensive repertoire of Southern Italian popular music and dance centred on the theme of fire and rhythms and contemporary vision. Serena Hotel Islamabad and the Italian embassy were able to raise Rs8 million from the proceedings of this fund gala dinner for creating awareness for the early detection of the Autistic child, their proper handling, care and cure.

The event was also attended by a well known Italian specialist in Autism at University of Pisa, Italy. According to an estimate, one out of 70 children suffers from autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. It begins at the age of three and lasts throughout a person’s life. Some children with ASD seem to develop normally until 18-24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills or forget the ones they have learnt. Autism is generally 4 times more in boys than in girls. Autism patients feel difficulty in interacting with others and all find it difficult to adjust in a change of routine. They over-react to normal things.

It is not only the capricious behaviour of the autism child but the family is also greatly affected as it becomes very egregious with time. Not only the financial burden increases but even the parents have to learn special techniques to deal with the ASD child. It is the fastest growing disability in the West and 172 per cent increase has been reported during the last few years. A child with autism has no fear. He can go near flames without acknowledging its effects or damage himself as well as others without consideration. There is one autism centre In Islamabad, whereas, Shifa hospital and Shifa foundation provides treatment to the ASD children.

The Sheesh Mahal hall at Serena Islamabad was ostentatiously decorated to cater 300+ guests who had donated for this cause. The performers from South of Italy were five in number, playing harmonium, guitar, drum, whereas, the two female performers dressed in Italian native costumes I White and red danced on the beats of the rhythm mesmerising the audience.

The backdrop of the stage kept on changing with beautiful breathtaking scenic sights of Italy. Three paintings made by autistic patients in their teens were also auctioned during the event, collecting a decent amount of Rs4 lac. Many participants also benefitted from the lucky draws winning dinner for two at Serena hotel, Italian merchandise and a return ticket to Rome. The management of Serena hotel did not lag behind in winning over the taste buds of the guests as the menu included prawn cocktail, beef tenderloins steak and homemade raspberry ice cream.