Volunteers help autism cause in the Western Cape

2016-07-18 22:08
Cards that can be arranged on cardboard to help autistic children with routines, through visual means. Volunteers helped Autism Western Cape to cut and laminate the cards. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Cards that can be arranged on cardboard to help autistic children with routines, through visual means. Volunteers helped Autism Western Cape to cut and laminate the cards. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Does your child have autism? Here's how you can find support

2015-03-10 08:23

Janine Chester from Autism Western Cape, and Angus Moor from The Big Autism Thing, join Jennifer Sanasie in studio to talk about one of the most misunderstood neurodevelopmental disorders. WATCH. WATCH

Cape Town – Getting ready for the day and using the toilet are skills that most people never think twice about.

Autistic children, on the other hand, don't know what to expect in their day, may be anxious about their routine and might not be able to ask someone.

With this in mind, volunteers got their scissors out on Monday to help Autism Western Cape (AWC) create visual schedules that children could use for routines at home, school and in the bathroom.

They also helped make brochures and community cards with information on autism, for their Mandela Day contribution.

These cards could be handed out to members of the public to sensitise them towards people with autism and their relatives.

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects how the brain and body works. It affects social communication and the way people see the world and respond to stimuli.

'24/7' role

AWC director Janine Chester said most parents, who had hopes and dreams about their children's future, were devastated upon receiving the diagnosis.

Apart from the associated denial and grief, autistic families were often judged and ostracised. 
Chester said looking after an autistic child was a "24/7" role.

The small AWC team offered their services, such as counselling, support groups, awareness training and home visits, for free. 

Rebecca Sibanda and Megan Dick, two of the volunteers. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

They relied on funding from the government and private donors.

Helping the NGO out on Monday were private individuals and employees of Woolworths Financial Services, the FW de Klerk foundation and the Centre for Constitutional Rights.

"It's amazing that people will give of their time. Mandela day is 67 minutes but most people were here for three to three-and-a-half hours," said a visibly moved Chester.


She said some volunteers had never come across autism before but would now spread the message in their communities.

"Even a small event like this spreads awareness. We are very grateful that people would give their time and assist us."

Megan Dick, spokesperson for the FW de Klerk foundation, said children with disabilities were very close to Mr and Mrs de Klerk's hearts. 

Rebecca Sibanda, a legal assistant for the Centre of Constitutional Rights, said she had not known about autism spectrum disorders before coming to the centre last year.

She said it was a constitutional right to be treated equally and get the same health benefits and education.

"The one thing that struck me most is the education aspect. Children who are autistic are either home-schooled by parents who are also learning or tutors."

Sibanda said it would be great if more attention could put on specialised classes in mainstream schools.

Read more on:    health

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