Botswana Commemorates Autism Day

| April 13, 2015

Deputy permanent secretary in the Office of the President, Dr Jeff Ramsay says World Autism Awareness Day is meant to shine a light on autism as a growing global health crisis.

Addressing participants at the World Autism Awareness Day in Gaborone, Dr Ramsay said along with the rest of the world, Botswana commemorated the day for the eighth year to raise public awareness about the special challenges associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Dr Ramsay stated that even in wealthier societies there was much uncertainty about ASD, while in Africa research was in its infancy. “For our region, World Autism Day is an opportunity to draw public attention to the fact that ASD is a challenge that we can no longer neglect,” he said.

He noted that autism was a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. He further explained that ASD was a neurological disability and people with ASD might communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that were different from most other people.

Dr Ramsay said professionals’ estimates based on more limited sampling studies across the continent suggested that up to two per cent of the region’s population was affected by ASD. He said autism has a tremendous impact on children, families, communities and society.

The day was themed ’employment: the autism aantage’, as the UN has estimated that more than 80 per cent of adults with autism are unemployed. Dr Ramsay called all to action by inviting businesses to make concrete commitments to employ people with disabilities including those with autism.

“I would also challenge every Motswana to learn about autism so that we may be better placed as a nation to assist those with autism,” he said.

For his part, the former President and Founder of Masire Foundation, Sir Ketumile Masire said life had so many challenges and that while others might be faced by such challenges, some might end up focusing on only their problems.

He thanked the Autism Botswana for the establishment of such a union, adding that it was crucial that people understand problems affecting them.

Sir Ketumile also commended parents living with children living with autism for coming out in the open and that his foundation was mandated with assisting where necessary the people living with all types of disabilities. “People living with disabilities were capable of contributing to the nation,” he said.

He called on the nation to also take part in assisting people living with disabilities. Sharing her experience as a parent living with a child with autism, Ms Taboka Mankebe – Kgoboko reiterated that people should be aware that indeed autism does exist.

She appealed to the public to be considerate of parents who have children affected by autism as they are mostly affected financially. Ms Mankebe – Kgoboko called upon people to accept the children and act rightfully by allowing the basic rights such as the right to life and education.

The day began with a walk from the United Nations Buildings to the three Chiefs Monument.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Medical/Health Care

Comments are closed.