April 2 marks the 16th annual World Autism Awareness Day—a day to recognize people living with autism. This international day of recognition for autism being recognized under the theme: “Transformation: Toward a Neuro-Inclusive World for All”, signals the need for us all to take action on behalf of, and alongside, those with autism.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), autism (also referred to as autism spectrum disorder or ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects 1 in 100 young people. It can have a wide range of effects on a child’s development, from challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. Characteristics may be detected in early childhood, but autism is often not diagnosed until much later.
“I encourage us all to take this special day to commit to reaching out to those around us who have differences, unique perspectives or life pathways, or who need a helping, encouraging hand”, said Dr Shivon Belle-Jarvis SLBMC Pediatric Department Chair. “Those of us with our own differences can speak up to offer our unique voices to the conversation. If we can expand our horizons in our own lives, we will do a better job of making room for everyone, every day, including those with autism.”
She added; “We owe it to our fellow Antiguans and Barbudans to do everything we can to address the disparities they face and to support autistic people with tools that facilitate clearer communication, increased productivity, and greater independence.”
World Autism Awareness Day also serves to launch April as Autism Awareness Month. Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre encourages you to join our awareness-raising and support activities that will be taking place this month and to help celebrate and support our neurodiverse citizens.