THE Ministry of Education’s Special Education Needs (SEN) Unit on Thursday hosted an Autism Acceptance Outreach at the National Centre of Educational Resources Development (NCERD) in Kingston.

The outreach was said to be part of the observance of Autism Awareness Month.

“We expect that the engagements conducted will accelerate the formation of the desired attitudes, bring changes, and produce actions beneficial to those of our population who have special education needs or live with disabilities, and especially those on the autism spectrum,” Savvie Hopkinson, National Special Education Needs Officer, said at the event.

Hopkinson noted that the event provided opportunities to reach out to the public to provide services to persons with disabilities.
There were several booths, including an information booth where the public could access information about SEN.

Other booths consisted of inclusive learning resources and activities. The Step by Step Foundation demonstrated how they teach children with special needs, while the Regional Special Education Needs Diagnostic and Treatment Centre (RSENDT) outlined ways of assessing and providing services to students.

The Ministry of Health also collaborated with SEN, offering ear and eye testing to the children in attendance, while Health Care International, Georgetown, offered healthcare services to all attendees.
Meanwhile, at an autism walk and public awareness session on World Autism Awareness Day, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, in her remarks, said that she desires to live in a world where awareness about the equality of autistic persons is no longer needed.

“We have to work tirelessly, consistently, and sensibly to remove the need for us to have autism awareness,” she said.
Also speaking at the autism walk was Director of NCERD Quenita Walrond-Lewis, who said that it is not only about the inclusivity of persons living with autism in the educational sphere like the classrooms but also in the workplace, so that all citizens can activate their right to access employment freely and fairly.

Additionally, in a dialogue forum, a team of SEN Officers shared with the public what autism is.
“Autism is a developmental disability, and it manifests itself before an individual is three years old,” one of the team members said.

They noted that while many scientists have done the research, there is no definite cause.
The team said different strategies can be used to manage autism.
They explained that an intensive substantive special education needs programme is put in place to provide structured teaching, language therapy, social skills therapy and more to help ensure the condition is properly managed.