Disability awareness and autism

By Lorton Walcot
Jan 24, 2008 - 8:51:00 AM

Being aware of a situation has its advantages, just as being unaware has its consequences. For example, let?s assume that you are accustomed to the furniture in a room. You are so aware of the position of every single piece that you can close your eyes and navigate your way through the room without colliding with any of them. But, if the furniture is changed around without your knowledge, then you are unaware of the change and consequently you may cause injury to yourself by falling over a chair or table.

There is therefore a need to be aware of the things going on around us and the issues that are being discussed beyond our own narrow confines. The whole topic of disability awareness, therefore, covers not only the disabled person and the care-giver but also the government, the general public and persons/organizations willing to lend a hand.

Disability awareness includes the awareness of the disorder known as "autism". Autism is a brain disorder that begins in early childhood and persists throughout adulthood, and affects three crucial areas of development: communication, social interaction, and creative or imaginative play. Signs of autism usually appear by about 18 months of age. It is usually diagnosed between the ages of two and three.

One of the amazing things about children with autism is that very often such children appear bright, likeable, normal-looking and physically in good shape but their behaviour doesn't match up to expectations and to the uninformed observer, these children may appear to be rude, annoying and not very well brought up.

The Autism Association of Barbados seeks in the short term to promote education and awareness of autism in Barbados and in the longer term, to acquire land and building to house a respite care unit. The Association falls under the umbrella body of the BCD (Barbados Council for the Disabled), and may be contacted through the offices of the BCD.

Recent statistics in the USA suggest that 1 in 150 persons in that country are affected by autism ? and the numbers are rising. If we apply that statistic to Barbados with a population of 275,000 people, the data would suggest that over 1,800 persons in Barbados could be affected with autism. This information gives cause for concern.

One of the things that parents are seeking is for the researchers to listen to them and to take their observations into consideration along with the scientific research conducted in laboratory-type conditions.

We'll talk about autism and vaccines, and the benefit of nutrition and certain vitamins in a future article.

Several assets and resources will be required to help the Autism Association of Barbados achieve its goals. Among these are an adequate membership base, trained care-givers with the right attitude and persons who share the passion and drive to make the Association's dream come true. For further information you are invited to contact the President of the Autism Association of Barbados, Lawton Walcott at 429-8242 or the P.R.O. Cliff Nolan at 427-3556.