Wednesday 22 May, 2019

Ministry joins Autism Society for World Autism Day commemoration

President of the Autism Society Teresina Sieunarine  delivers remarks during the World Autism Day commemoration event

President of the Autism Society Teresina Sieunarine delivers remarks during the World Autism Day commemoration event

“Persons living with Autism Spectrum Disorder are equal citizens and must be treated as such in all spheres of life; be it access to education, health, employment, transport, justice and the built environment.”

This was the statement made by Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn, Minister of Social Development and Family Services as she delivered the feature address during the Autism Society of commemorative event for World Autism Awareness Day on April 4.

Under the theme “Empowering Families and Persons with Autism to be Advocates", Crichlow-Cockburn quoted the World Health Organisation, saying, "Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term that covers a spectrum of neurological disorders that occur in one in every 160 children worldwide and that Autism is classified into a Spectrum that ranges from level 3 to level 1."

She pointed out that diagnosis at each stage requires substantial support and this results in great demands being placed on parents and other family members who support the child or other individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

She also highlighted the Ministry’s continued support towards advocacy, creating awareness and the development and implementation of several policies and initiatives.  Among these are:

  • Finalization of the National Policy on Persons with DisabilitiesImplementation of the “enable Project” a project which the Ministry is working with the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development to provide employment opportunities for persons with disabilities
  • Use of media spaces to increase information, education and awareness on Autism Spectrum Disorder, by highlighting the talents of persons with autism in arts, athletics and academics
  • Production of a fact Sheet on Autism Spectrum Disorder for public dissemination through traditional and social media, as well as a featured interview to highlight an individual and family’s experience of living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Minister lauded the Autism Society for its exceptional work for the last 28 years and encouraged all to embrace the opportunity to become advocates to educate the public and build awareness to dispel stereotypes surrounding persons with Autism Disorder.

Also present at the event were President of the Autism Society Teresina Sieunarine who read the message from the UN Secretary-General on the occasion of World Autism Day, as well as representatives from other Ministries, government agencies and NGOs. Cultural performances were presented by the Society’s Adult Group, Malick Folk performers and Arima Angel Harps Steel Orchestra.

One highlight of the day’s proceedings was the prayer written by Charis Sieunarine back in 2007 for her brother who is on the Autism spectrum, which was recited as follows:

"Almighty God, we pray for all those persons in this country and worldwide who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Help us to:

A -  Accept and embrace all those who have autism

U – Unite the hearts of all mankind in recognizing their plight

T – Touch with your grace, the lives of those who intentionally ignore them

I – Inspire heart-warming willingness and quiet patience in those who care for and love persons with autism, and

S – Strengthen their ability to cope by changing their moments of confusion and frustration into understanding and peace, so that

M – Miracles can occur in the lives of those special persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders"

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