Autism is a neuro developmental disorder characterized by impaired communication and social interaction. Tee exact cause of it is unknown, however, it is traced to complex genetic and environmental factors.
The United Nations General Assembly announced April 2 as world Autism Day and since 2008, this day has been observed as such.
The theme for this year’s Autism Day, is: “Assistive Technologies. Active Participation.”
Now here is why it is important to create awareness and acceptance of autism;
Many people have misunderstandings about autism and persons living with it. It is however important that we broaden our knowledge on the condition so that we can understand and support them. Because Autism is a spectrum disorder, it can manifest in different people in different ways in terms of symptoms, characteristics and challenges and hence will need different levels of assistance. But there are two common characteristics with persons living with autism, the first is difficulties in communication and social interaction and the second is repetitive behaviour, routines and activities.
Some persons living with autism can also be under or overly sensitive to light, colors sounds and smell depending on their spectrum.
Few weeks ago, I thought it was okay to refer to people with the condition as ‘autistic’ until a friend explained why that was demeaning. I also formerly thought that persons living with autism always looked a certain way until I learnt that someone could look the way I look or the way YOU look and still have the condition.
In an interview with Serwaa Quainor, Founder at Autism Awareness Care Center, on Prince Benjamin ‘s drive time show on Class Fm, I got to know that these persons do not eat sugar(y) foods which tells that there’s a lot to learn, really.
In the developed countries, although awareness creation is very much still a priority, the structures are favorable to persons living with autism and their laws are progressive, same sadly, cannot be said for Ghana. A lot more of education needs to be done especially to parents, guardians and caretakers of persons living with autism. Parents need to understand fully how best to care for these ones and how to integrate them into society so they can also feel a part, rather than locking them up indoors for fear of mockery or ridicule. The government needs to strengthen the existing autism care centers in the country and support the establishment of newer ones. Even those in the media and creative arts industry can also by way of the movies, plays, and music they make, educate the Ghanaian society on this disorder. It is a collective responsibility and we will need to, in our small way create that awareness.
There are a number of famous and successful people living with autism, the likes of Bill Gates, Susan Boyle, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. This shows that persons living with autism have unique abilities and will need our support to achieve their full potential and so rather than discriminate, we can show them care and also create awareness about the condition
We could also show support by donating to the Autism Care centre’s around us.