Calls made for more support for persons with autism at UN World Autism Day 2015.
On April 2nd 2015, many countries worldwide commemorated United Nations World Autism Awareness Day. A special function was held at The Autistic Society of Trinidad and Tobago Headquarters (ASTT) at Ragoo Road, D’abadie to mark the event. A panel of speakers spoke to the gathering about the need for more awareness and financial support for Autism in Trinidad and Tobago.
Speakers included: Mrs. Teresina Sieunarine, President of ASTT; Karen Yip Chuck, General Manager Trust Services and Republic Bank Limited Champion for Autism; Yvette Hood, Co-ordinator of Child Development, Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development; and Nichol Alves, General Manager of ASTT. Opening remarks were delivered by Mrs. Halena Kong Ting, Secretary of ASTT and the function was chaired by Ms. Joy Valdez, volunteer. The vote of thanks was delivered by Ms. Sarah Soo Hon, PRO of ASTT.
ASTT’s President delivered the UN Secretary General’s message for 2015 and stated that according to the United Nations every country has an estimated 1% of persons with autism in its population and this would be about 13,000 in T&T. ASTT has, so far, registered and knows of only 600 persons. She said that we have a long way to go in identifying all persons with autism in our country and that It is imperative that each one of these children be included when planning appropriate services for our citizens.
Karen Yip Chuck pledged continued support from Republic Bank Limited and urged other businesses to do the same.
Yvette Hood, Co-ordinator of Child Development in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, pledged the Ministry’s support for the efforts of ASTT. She also stated that her Unit was in the process of organising an autism support Centre.
The General Manager, Ms. Nichol Alves revealed that 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Autistic Society of Trinidad and Tobago. In so doing she showcased the history of the organisation, from its humble origins holding meeting at the Kiwanis Club in St. Helena Village to the present time as the premier NGO for Autism in Trinidad and Tobago, serving a client base of 600 families.
A heart breaking and emotional theatrical performance was delivered by Mrs. Suzette Neptune-Fortune and a colleague from Point Fortin. As a parent of an adult with Autism, Mrs. Neptune-Fortune highlighted society’s negative perception of persons with Autism, as persons who are less than able, all the whilst exposing the emotional turmoil parents face as a result. Her piece encourages us all to treat persons with autism as equal citizens and with respect.
The World Autism Awareness Day function held at ASTT Headquarters at D’abadie, is one of a series of events organised by ASTT for the month of April 2015, which has been designated as a month to celebrate Autism and the work of the Autistic Society.
- A walk for autism in Point Fortin on Friday 17th April from 3pm at the Therapeutic & Life Skills Centre, Baptiste Road; Autism Tobago’s walk is also on Friday 17th April starting at 3.00pm at James Park and in POS on Saturday 25th April at 3pm at the Queen’s Park Savannah. To register participants must only purchase a T-shirt.
- Autism Seminar organised by the Rotary Club Sangre Grande at SWAHA College, Sunday 19th April 10am
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