Autism awareness day/week

by Ingrid Robeyns on March 31, 2012

Monday April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. Yet in the Netherlands (and I suspect other countries as well), today starts the ‘Autismeweek’ (no translation needed!) – a full week in which people who care about people with autism (which includes people with autism as well!) try to put autism in the spotlights, raise awareness, inform the wider public, and speak up or speak out.

So I am hoping to post one autism-related post every day, covering various aspects – scientific discussions, books and films on autism, a thread on the bright/funny sides of autism, and a few more. If anyone has additional suggestions or special requests, feel free to make suggestions.

This opening post also serves as a place where all of you can post links to your own contributions to autism awareness day/week, and to activities (whether in cyberspace or beyond) that are organized within the frame of World Autism Awareness Day.



Cypat 03.31.12 at 5:20 pm

I tend to question this rise. My daughter’s stepson his listed as “on the autism spectrum” because no one can figure out what is wrong with him. He has problems, but it is hard to see how autism comes into it. He is personable and empathetic, but no one can diagnose what his real problem is. The powers that be have to have a justification for keeping him in a special school because he cannot function in the regular school environment.


geo 03.31.12 at 6:28 pm

A friend of mine has just published a book that I can recommend:


Todd 03.31.12 at 8:26 pm

A great site sponsored by Kate Winslet has published a great new autism awareness and tribute book this week. Golden Hat is featuring their documentary film “A Mother’s Courage” at the UN on Monday for world autism day. A great feature idea for you for awareness and multimedia flair.


niamh 03.31.12 at 11:25 pm

Thanks for starting this thread, Ingrid. I know at least three families where one member is someone with autism. It’s heart-breaking for parents in Ireland trying to get educational support for their children. It’s tough for parents seeing their teenage kids trying to cope. And it is really awful when they reach age 18 and the services and supports stop – worsened by recent cutbacks. Especially if they have a severe form, and are physically strong, and dealing with everyday frustrations can become impossible for everyone to bear.


Substance McGravitas 03.31.12 at 11:35 pm

I have one in the moderation queue.


Ingrid Robeyns 04.01.12 at 5:07 am

Substance McGravitas: I just woke up and there’s nothing in the moderation queue. Sorry! Could you rewrite/repost?


Substance McGravitas 04.01.12 at 6:11 pm

Doesn’t like me for some reason, so I’ll leave out a somewhat dated link. I wanted to thank you for the coming series.

Regarding the complaint above about autism spectrum disorder, yes it’s vague but it gets people much needed services. In my daughter’s case it was obvious that she was a happy and bright and aware child when she got her diagnosis, but she was exhibiting just enough behaviour to…not get herself the autism spectrum diagnosis without a little cheating on the part of a kind professional. Those differences now are more obvious in relation to her peers, so it’s easy to justify the extra attention she needs at school, but without the diagnosis (and subsequent therapies of all sorts and full-time attention in a public school) we would have been in a bad place .


Substance McGravitas 04.01.12 at 10:33 pm

And I see that you’ve addressed that in the next post, so thank you again.


Sally Stokes 04.02.12 at 8:21 am

my son was diagnosed with autism at 2years of age. Was told he would never recognise me as his mother, most probably not talk and would never be able to interact with his peers or have a social life. After a lot of hard work and patience on all our parts, we got him into a mainstream school that had a unit attached for special needs children. He kept disappearing to join the “normal ” classes when fortunately the headmaster said he could stop in there and see how he did. Wish there were more schools like that!!! He went onto college, got 3 A levels and onto the local University where he got a degree in Psychology. He is a man now of 25 years but due to the economic climate and our stupid government in the UK he can’t get the job he wants which is in Education to help special needs children because as he says” I know how it feels to be different and want to help children the way that I was helped ” but we were lucky in his school to begin with. He still has autistic traits, is shy, but is one of the most nicest people you could ever meet. For instance for his sisters 21st, he went to 21 different shops to get a £10 from each one for her birthday. I just wish he could get a job, but then again there are millions like that at the moment anyway.
But a big raspberry to those at the beginning who gave me such a bleak outlook


June O' Farrell 04.04.12 at 7:46 am

I am trained to teach pupils who are on the autistic spectrum who also have a moderate learning difficulty. I work in Ireland. A debate exists in Ireland with regard to the ABA model of provision which resulted in court action. A case was taken by a parent against the Department of Education in which the parent argued that the ABA model was more suited to the educational needs of her son, who because he had turned six, was no longer going to be entitled to ABA provision. Instead he was to be placed in a school where educational provision was to be of an ecletic nature where different methodologies were included in the service provision. She lost this case and the thirteen or so schools throughout the country which were ‘ABA pilot schools’ were put on notice that they would no longer receive funding from the Department of Education as ‘pilot ABA schools’ but could be subsumed into the Department’s own model or effectively close down. In general, with such a tough choice, I understand that most pilot schools have come under the auspices of the Department. The staffing levels are not as favourable as this would be seen as an immediate disadvantage. Also through decicated fund raising efforts these schools retained the services of OT, SLT, Psychologist, Physiotherapist on site, recognising that consistent input inproved outcomes for these pupils who often present with a dual diagnoses of Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADD, or Sensory Integration Dysfunction. For the record I would envy the higher staffing levels enjoyed in these ABA schools and the ongoing access to a Multi disciplinary team, but I favour the eclectic model myself while being very much in favour of a significant emphasis on an ABA approach for pupils up to the 6 or 7.

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