It may be one word, but in reality, the term "autism" (technically "autism spectrum disorder") is given to a wide range of conditions, posing unique challenges for each individual.
It is this aspect of the condition that makes it challenging for families to maintain a healthy and safe environment which would allow their child to thrive.
Additionally, when seeking accurate information that is specific to their child's needs, parents may become overwhelmed by conflicting advice, and are at risk of being exposed to misinformation and myths about autism.
What was it like when your child was first diagnosed with ASP? Tell us your story by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
For Kirsten Miller, Director of Action in Autism (AiA), the key lies in regular interaction with education, therapy and medical specialists, as well as with other families living with autism.
Based in KwaZulu-Natal, AiA is a registered NPO and PBO providing essential autism resources and services to families regardless of their socio-economic status.
“We offer families access to a community where they can learn and grow,” explains Kirsten. “This applies to the whole family. We give people regular access to meaningful resources and support."
AiA offers access to private health care to families struggling to pay for the expertise and support they need, providing parent to parent counselling, specialist-lead support groups, and a free diagnostic clinic.
Recognising the need for employment opportunities and skills development for adults living with Autism, the centre is now seeking to launch an educational centre.
“The key issue is to empower communities to ensure that autistic people are understood, respected and included, and hence integrated into mainstream society. This process starts with education, but it must follow through with a commitment to establishing the correct tools and resources for autistic people of all ages.”
If you'd like to know more about the organisation or how to offer your support, visit the AiA website: www.actioninautism.org.za or call 031 5633039.
What was it like when your child was first diagnosed? Tell us your story by emailing to email@example.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
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