World Autism Day: Gala dinner to aid children with autism

World Autism month is observed globally to help children with autism to lead happy and fulfilling lives. Picture: Supplied.

World Autism month is observed globally to help children with autism to lead happy and fulfilling lives. Picture: Supplied.

Published Apr 3, 2023


Johannesburg - World Autism Awareness Month is celebrated globally in April every year to raise awareness, share insights, and show support for this condition that some people live with.

Autism is known as a lifelong disorder that impacts all areas of communication and social interaction and can manifest itself in numerous ways.

Autistic people communicate and behave differently and have different experiences of the world.

Autism is on the rise in countries around the world; it has been named a "quiet health crisis," as it is believed that it does not receive nearly as much attention as physical illnesses like diabetes and cancer.

Yet, with the right support, both children and adults on the autism spectrum can lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Florence Dzedzemane, head teacher at the Thulasizwe Autism School in Orlando West, Soweto, spoke about autism.

“This represents not only a major gap in our healthcare system but also a lost opportunity to make a meaningful difference to children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder).

“Needless to say, one of the greatest challenges we face is raising the funds necessary to provide the kind of specialised services they need in order to develop their potential and participate in family and social life,” said Dzedzemane.

Raising a child with ASD is not easy for parents, she says, especially as children with the disorder often have difficulty conveying meaning through speech or by using non-verbal cues.

This can make communication very difficult because the child might not understand the need to reciprocate when the parent says something or, indeed, might not know how to do that.

These problems are frequently exacerbated by a lack of social understanding, so it is Thulasizwe’s mission to offer children and families a range of interventions to help them deal with ASD collectively as a family.

As part of its annual fundraising programme, Bohale Ba Rena (BBR) and Sandton-based law firm Kekana Hlatswayo Radebe Attorneys (KHR) will be hosting a gala dinner to mark Autism Month and raise funds for Thulasizwe.

The dinner will be held on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton, and BBR is inviting supporters to purchase corporate tickets for the event.

"Many children with ASD have special educational needs, and, until very recently, there were only nine autism-specific public schools in South Africa," says Boitumelo Keetse, the founder of the Bohlale Ba Rena Foundation.

While the government has opened an additional 18 autism-specific schools in 2018, they generally have long waiting lists, which means that many children with ASD do not have access to educational facilities that can cater to their needs.

The Star

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child development