Bermuda Autism Support & Education [BASE] invites the public to join them on the steps of City Hall, Hamilton next Wednesday, April 5, to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day.

The ceremony, which starts at 12:00 p.m., will also mark the beginning of Autism Awareness Month in Bermuda.

Bermuda will join autism communities around the world in celebrating the 10th annual World Autism Awareness Day, which was established following a 2007 United Nations resolution.

It is one of only three official condition-specific United Nations Days and aims to bring the world’s attention to Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD], which affects tens of millions of people worldwide.

Next week’s celebration will see Jeanne Atherden, Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment, read the official UN declaration and there will also be a musical performance by Aaron Spencer Jr of the Bermuda Institute of Seventh Day Adventist.

World Autism Awareness Day activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of autism and provide information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Additionally, it celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe. For more information, visit here.

Anthony Peets, President of BASE, said: “Autism continues to be the world’s leading pediatric concern. The statistics are staggering. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], about 1% of the world’s population has ASD and 1 in 68 US births are identified with ASD.

“However a new US Government survey of parents indicates the prevalent rate may now be 1 in 45 births. Researchers are still working to find what causes autism but what we are finding with consistent veracity is that early diagnosis and intervention can improve outcomes.

“It is estimated that relevant autism treatment services cost US citizens $236-$262 billion annually. In Bermuda the burden still falls heavily on parents to pay out of pocket for the recommended therapies and testing that is needed.

“BASE will be embarking on a consultative journey with major insurance companies to see how some of this burden can be alleviated. It still rings true that having a broken leg will be met with more favour for support than a lifelong autism diagnosis.

“Each month we are contacted by parents and family members for advice on therapy and schooling. BASE will continue to ensure that the needs of those on the autism spectrum are met and we look forward to the tabling of the Inclusive and Special Education Act. This Act will ensure that specific services are provided for all children with special needs, including ASD. Most important will be the explicit requirement that trained, certified interventionists will administer the relevant interventions.

“The passage of legislation is one important component along with continued first class programming. We are very appreciative of the efforts of the Ministry of Education in continuing to have make specialized ASD teachers and support staff available.

“Education and awareness of autism is vitally important in our community. As my son says, “Dad, autism just means you’re unique.” I share with him, “Autism just helps others to see the specialness in you.”

A number of events will be taking place over the coming weeks to raise autism awareness.

  • On April 22, Wolf Dunaway an I.T Specialist who is on the Autism Spectrum will share with Teachers, Families and helping professionals all about his life journey. He presents at Major Autism Conferences in the U.S.A and those who meet him, will never forget him.
  • On April 23 at 9 a.m., BASE invites the community to take part in the 2nd annual RUBiS Warwick Gas Station Charity 5K Family Fun Walk and Run in celebration of Autism Awareness Month. Proceeds from this year’s event will go to BASE.
  • On April 27, we welcome back on island Go kart driver Austin Riley to the island. Austin, who is now 18, is a star in Canadian motorsports and is a 3 time karting champion despite having Autism. Austin will be visiting schools around Bermuda to talk about his experiences before taking part in a special Dockyard grand prix race on Saturday April-30th and Sunday May 1st.

For more details on all these events, please visit www.bermudaautism.com

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