“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance”
~ Nathaniel Branden
Autism awareness has grown leaps and bounds in the past decade. We definitely observe this as more common and current responses to a question like “Have you heard of Autism?” are way more positive and informative than they used to be! Also, it’s clear that more and more parents are comfortable coming forward to seek information and support for their kids, as the “taboo” attached to autism slowly loosens its grip on society!! This Autism Awareness Month, ‘Acceptance’ is the main theme. This prompts us to make the shift from the successful ongoing growth of awareness, to more all-rounded societal inclusion. An exciting direction, indeed!
We at Autism Link have been extremely busy this month with all the Autism Awareness hype! On the 6th of April, we set up an Autism Awareness booth and activity hub for a fun-filled day of sharing information and show of support for individuals with Autism. Besides speaking to a number of members of the public regarding autism, lots of kids were also entertained with face/body painting. Keeping with the theme of acceptance, lots of you guys left such heartfelt messages on our public message wall, showing your support and understanding. We sincerely thank everyone for this show of compassion and love!
Last weekend as well, we participated in a very successful collaboration with Publika and Yayasan Nanyang Press. There were many talks, workshops by professionals in the field and performances by talented individuals with autism. These performances were absolutely outstanding! Our Senior Case Supervisor, Low Ree Ta shared a lot of valuable information on autism, well done Ree Ta! We also applaud one of our esteemed clients Clare Miles, for promoting acceptance by sharing her journey as a mother of two boys with autism.
Our Senior Case Supervisor, Ree Ta
Clare Miles, mother of two boys with autism
Besides large-scale events such as these, there are more individualistic ways in which all of us as members of society can do our part to increase both awareness and acceptance of autism. For example, being a parent, the values taught to your children play a large role in the overall level of acceptance that these typical children would show other children with autism. In a school setting where there is a certain degree of classroom inclusion (special needs/autistic children included in a mainstream classroom), acceptance is so important especially to decrease incidences of bullying. Let’s be honest, children can be harsh! However, this is through no fault of their own. They simply may not understand why and how children with autism are different to them, and why there is such a need for compassion and understanding.
It is the heavy responsibility of the parents as well as the teachers to educate kids on how to be tolerant and accepting of other kids with special needs. Fortunately, there are tools to help with this! For example, this is a great video resource for anyone who wants to sit down with their kids and take some time to understand autism-
Also, we see a lot of growing effort on the part of other establishments that are promoting acceptance by making themselves more “autism friendly”! For example, this restaurant in Subang has incorporated visual cues into their menus and around the restaurant to facilitate an autistic individual’s understanding of the surroundings. Great work guys! Check out the feature below!-
Another way we can improve as a society in terms of accepting individuals with autism, is through the opportunities we provide. More specifically, employment opportunities. If you are a small business owner, take some time to consider any way you may be able to provide a job opportunity to an individual with autism. Easier said than done, of course! However, the fact that our mindsets as business owners have this opportunity to shift- is something we should definitely take seriously. For example, Little Wonton Cafe in Taman Tun Dr Ismail is promoting autism acceptance and inclusion by having 2 individuals with autism involved in daily operations, both in the kitchen and out on the floor. Pay them a visit to show your support!-
Little Wonton Facebook page-
Little Wonton Instagram page -https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/57294742/little-wonton?hl=en
All in all, it is absolutely fantastic to see how awareness is turning more into acceptance, and how this leads to more inclusion and opportunity. It’s been a fantastic Autism Awareness Month for all of us here at Autism Link, we’re happy to always have opportunities to do our part for these special individuals very close to our hearts!