The Autistic Society of Trinidad and Tobago – A brief history
Our Parent Support Group for children with this challenging and puzzling brain disorder was established on 31st May 1990. The Society was incorporated under the Companies Ordinance Chapter 31 Number 1 as a Company Limited by Guarantee on June 10th 1991. ASTT is also a certified Non-profit organization and registered charitable organization.
ASTT is a member of the Consortium of Disability Organisations (CODO) and a member of the Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life (FEEL). ASTT is registered with the Ministries of Social Development, Community Development and Health. ASTT is also a registered training agency with the National Training Agency, On the Job Training Programme.
The Board members are made up mainly of parents of individuals with autism. The last AGM was held on Saturday 20th November 2021.
Mission Statement: To work together with families to help all individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders achieve their fullest potential through education, training and advocacy for affordable and appropriate quality services.
There are over 1000 families registered with ASTT but according to the United Nations an estimated 1% of our population may have autism. A disability register is not available in T&T and so accurate statistics cannot be given. ASTT sees an average of 5 new families per month. About 60 families per week access services.
ASTT has 2 parent support centres-D’Abadie and Point Fortin. The focus at the centres is on establishing a parent as partner model in order for the parent/caregiver to help teach their children and adults on the autism spectrum.
This is necessary because on diagnosis a child with autism may require up to 40 hours of therapy per week. Affordable and appropriate educational opportunities and therapy is limited in T&T.
Our group extends services as funding is available. Presently we have 1 teen and 1 adult group as well as 1 social/play group for children. We have weekly music/movement/drama and art sessions as well as individual sessions by appointment.
Since 2008 we have conducted a 1 week therapy camp for children. In July 2012 we held the first adult day therapy camp for 1 week at Autism Place. Families have also attended camp from Grenada.
We conduct regular volunteer training and parent training workshops facilitated by our local certified personnel, staff at the 2 centres and experts from overseas. Educators, therapists and members of the public are also invited to our events.
We are also involved in advocacy and increasing autism awareness and acceptance throughout T&T. We have conducted workshops in Tobago and the President and other members have given talks to a wide range of persons- social workers, nursing students, medical students, doctors, PTA’s, private sector groups, charitable organizations e.g Rotary & Kiwanis Clubs and religious groups.
ASTT also facilitates internship programmes and research through students from many of the Universities and tertiary level institutions. School students also volunteer eg since 1998 from St. Augustine Girls High School and more recently from Bishop Anstey/Trinity East, and other secondary schools.
ASTT has been the recipients of British Petroleum T&T Social and Community Awards. One of the projects was the production of a 20 minutes DVD “Autism: A silver lining” which won a PAHO/WHO media award for the best documentary in the area of health journalism in 2006 both national and regionally.
(Available online @ http://autismtt.org/2019/03/22/silver-lining-video-from-astt/ )
Publications include an 8 page booklet “The Autism Puzzle” written by Mrs. Suzy de Verteuil (educator) specially designed for children to read about the child on the autism spectrum.
“We live and love too” – a book of short stories featuring some of our adults written by Mrs. Joy Valdez, an educator/writer/ volunteer who facilitates a Friday parent group.
We participate in the annual PowerGen games, organize annual Family Days and Christmas Treats.
As a result of our training workshops since 1999 the Autism Association of Barbados was formed as well as Autism Tobago.
In 2013 we were the first NGO to receive the Service Provider of the Year award from T&T Coalition of Service Industries.
In 2014 ASTT launched a certificate programme with Professor Kari Dunn Buron of MN, USA. Later that year ASTT delivered a module on autism at CREDI (Catholic University)
Since 2016 ASTT collaborated with the Soroptimists International in San Fernando to have monthly sessions in the south. We hope that we can continue to work together to have parent/educator training.
Response to Covid-19 in 2020:
ASTT appealed to individuals and the private sector to obtain devices so that we could begin online programmes.
Hamper distribution with items from FEEL and other donors became urgent to assist families from April. Many family members lost jobs or were unable to work due to strict Covid-19 regulations.
Online sessions began in June including parent workshops. Staff produced teaching aids for collection by parents.
Online camps were organized in 2021 and 2022 for both children and adults.
We wish to thank ALL individuals, groups, Companies who support ASTT.
Persons who are interested in visiting and in helping our parent support groups can contact us
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com/Telephones 646-5506/225-6808, Pt. Fortin 270-9224