Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn said the Government is earnestly working on developing policy for special needs care in Barbados to ensure that no Barbadian is left behind.
Straughn was speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of Chrisy’s Care Fun Day which was held on Saturday at Ilaro Court, Two Mile Hill, St Michael. He said the community has special importance to him.
“My son [Kofi] is autistic, so I am here to give some assistance to Christine who I have known for ten years and she, coincidentally, is one of my constituents. I think in the area of special needs, as a parent who has an autistic son, we want to make sure that we have enough [resources] in place to support the children and the families because it is quite expensive for the additional therapies in relation to special needs and diets. It is something we are looking at [from a policy standpoint] to see how best the Government could support it. But… we have to work out how best to target the support that we can give,” he said.
The MP for Christ Church East Central said events such as the recently held Rock Your Socks campaign for World Down Syndrome Day assisted in raising awareness for members of the special needs community.
“It is something we need to continue because it is not just about the support for the campaign but certainly to ensure from a policy standpoint, not just the Government but non-governmental organisations and caretakers and professionals who work in the area to make sure these children can achieve their full potential. They have a lot of talent and it is just a matter of unearthing the talent that is there,” he said.
Straughn added that he supports the integration of special needs students in the school setting.
“In terms of training and awareness, children with special needs require a special kind of care which is not typical of what you would call a [regular] developing child. So, [having] integration into the main stream requires persons to have a greater understanding of the needs in terms of making sure that they feel comfortable around everybody,” he said.
Straughn added that events such as Chrisy’s Care Fun Day help to further the integration of the special needs community into Barbadian society.
“As we go forward and there is more awareness of the needs of children with special needs and they become adults, they are further integrated into mainstream society and receive employment. I think Government would be able to support such opportunities to ensure that no Barbadian gets left behind,” he told Barbados TODAY. (LG)