Autism awareness in rural Samoa
April is Autism month and the team at SENESE is making sure people living with the condition know they are appreciated and loved – and that parents know they have a responsibility.
SENESE kicked off its local celebrations yesterday at Manunu Primary School in Anoama’a where the guest speaker was a parent whose child is autistic.
Reverend Roma Enosa said the commemoration of Autism Month is very important to allow parents to share their experiences.
“From the very start when my wife gave birth to Enosa, we didn’t know that something like this could happen to him,” he said.
“But as he grew up and he started to develop, that’s when we knew he had special needs. We continued to love him, he is a gift from God for us and we are blessed.”
Rev. Enosa said SENESE has helped them tremendously.
He added that it’s very important for villages in the rural areas to host special events like this to raise awareness among the rural community.
“Having an autistic son is not easy,” he said.
“It takes lots of responsibility to care for them but we have to try our best to communicate with them. When we see them with special needs, we shouldn’t try to abandon them. They are longing too to communicate and interact with us.
“We have to let them know and feel what strong people like us think.
“Working together is very important in community such as families, churches and villages.
For the celebration, SENESE is going to selected schools to celebrate with the children, their parents and their communities.
There are lots of fun activities for the children, prizes to be won, entertainment and plenty of information sharing about autism.
SENESE will be wearing Blue all week.
Today, the SENESE Team will be at All Saints Anglican Primary School; Wednesday will be spent at Samoa Primary School, Thursday we will be at Vaimoso Primary School and on Friday morning, they will be celebrating with Tolumailagi Pre-School at Faatoia to be followed by the official closing of Autism Week with the students under the SENESE Secondary programme at Vaitele.
Leader of Primary Programme, Tupaepae Simi, said Autism Day is an opportunity to reflect and raise awareness about Autism.
What is autism spectrum disorder?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.
We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.
Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier.
Autism Speaks urges parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes.