Awareness on autism raised

2018-05-09 06:02
Staff and learners of the Boitumelong Special School on Autism Awareness Day. From the left are Papase Tlhakodi, Bangani Fako, Keiketsi Keitsemore, Omogolo Moloeloe, Paballo Keeke and Mapalo Rancho.

Staff and learners of the Boitumelong Special School on Autism Awareness Day. From the left are Papase Tlhakodi, Bangani Fako, Keiketsi Keitsemore, Omogolo Moloeloe, Paballo Keeke and Mapalo Rancho.

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The occupational therapy team of the autism unit of the Boitumelong Special School has taken the initiative to educate the community about this genetic disorder.

The school held an outreach programme on 20 April, thereby creating more awareness in the central business district of Thaba Nchu.

The autism spectrum disorder refers to a range of conditions characterised by challenges regarding social skills, repetitive behaviour, speech and nonverbal communication, combined with unique strengths and differences.

Elmien Visagie, occupational therapist at the school, said the objective of the programme is to continue creating awareness of associated medical issues and the treatment of people living with autism. She said the school has approximately 40 learners diagnosed with autism.

“Every year the autism team hosts an Autism Awareness Day to raise more awareness on autism. This year the national theme for Autism Month was #Proudly out of the box.

“The autism team decided to do something ‘out of the ordinary’ by taking the learners into the community,” said Visagie.

The outreach and awareness programme supported Autism South Africa’s effort for the creation of activities for children diagnosed with autism, to achieve a society where persons with the autism spectrum disorder enjoy all the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Visagie said approximately 80 people, including the learners, staff and parents of the autistic learners, took part in the community awareness outreach programme.

“The team described what a diagnosis of autism entails and explained that if the diagnosis is understood, it can be managed although there are challenges.

“There is always hope. Every child with autism is unique and everyone has their own story to tell. The community of Thaba Nchu, including businesses, supported the Autism Awareness Day event,” said Visagie.

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