Autism – do we know enough about it? Are we accepting these children and young adults with autism to be part of our society? Do we give them the love and care we would give our children who are not autistic? These are some of the questions that the Reach Beyond team strived to answer when they organized the awareness walk to commemorate the World Autism day recently.
Reach Beyond – Autism and Child Development Centre’s “Walk to Accept, Include and Empower” which was held at the Viharamahadevi Park was a successful event patronized by the young and old alike to support this cause, as it aims to create awareness at grassroots level and promote a more inclusive society for children and young adults with disabilities. It was encouraging to see so many people with no barriers of social backgrounds, age, race or religion join hands together in one accord, with one purpose in mind – to help and empower these individuals with special needs.
Reach Beyond ‘Parents as Partners’ support group is the first island-wide parent disability movement in Sri Lanka. They are a free of charge support network for parents of children with all disabilities, in operation since November of 2016, with a growing membership of more than 700 parents. Their goal is to build a tri-lingual parent support network of 10,000 parents across the country within the next 3 to 5 years.
Awareness and acceptance go a long way in helping individuals with autism lead a meaningful life. The parents of children with autism not only struggle with helping their child cope with the struggles of daily life, but also feel belittled by the judging eyes of the public.
The walk was followed by several tri-lingual events including a talent show, fun fair and forum for parents. Many parents were seen mingling and getting to know individuals with autism and their families who could in the future help and support them overcome the stigma. This was a great opportunity for them to realise that they need not feel alone anymore.
Reach Beyond14/7 Tickell Road, Colombo 8. For registration, and information contact – 0112684441 or 0777 327120/1
The Daily Mirror Life spoke to some of the people gathered at the park to get their view on this project.
Many years ago back in 1973, my father started a similar project and it was called the Sunshine Camp. It’s a really good thing that people are taking a keen interest in Autism. It is indeed an honour to see so many participants. What I noticed was that it is the parents who are burdened with these children and in most cases it is the mother. It’s great to see that these children are accepted in society. Now many schools have also accepted them into their regular classes.
We have at least one kid who is different in our families. We also have close friends in the same situation. Even at this stage of our lives, we felt that we must help to address this issue as Sri Lanka needs to look after these children just like all the other children. So that’s why I’m here. I would like to see where I can also help.
Autism is not a disease, these children are just like our children. What they need is love and care. Please do not isolate them. Accept them as your children, show them, love, show them kindness and affection.
It’s amazing and inspiring to see all these people come to support these kids we love so much.
Since Autistic Children are also children it’s important that the legislature includes them and have them in mind when they make legislations and Acts so that the scope will be broad when it comes to securing their lives.
I’ve been helping from last year. We have kids like this in our classes at school also and we’ve been growing up with them so we don’t show them any difference. We treat everyone equally.
The walk was very well organized. It’s doing a great job at bringing about awareness. Everyone has got together for a common cause. I’m here to support Kiara and her family.
This is my second year helping at this walk. It empowers everybody who has Autism so it’s great.
think it’s really important that we include Autistic children because the Western World is progressing but clearly Sri Lanka isn’t, so it’s time we take a stand on this now.
We are from IOM (International Organisation for Migration). This is a really good cause. It was well organized. Sadly Autism is not talked about much in Sri Lanka. But these children need to be given a lot of attention and care.
Pics – Damith Wickramasinghe