The Autism Association of Barbados is lobbying for more sensitization in the workplace and the education system.
President Frank Johnson said corporate Barbados does not have the prerequisites to accommodate autistic adults. He was speaking Saturday at the Au-Mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance discussion at the Radisson Resort.
The presentation which was conducted by Dr Alisha Griffith discussed increasing awareness about the disorder and also encouraging parents to create support groups and advocate for change.
Johnson said more sensitization and awareness must be done on autism. He noted that the corporate sector “don’t know what to do” as it relates to adults with autism.
“They should be sensitized that children like this do have abilities. It is the same across a broad spectrum of disabilities. There are people out there who are wheelchair bound and they are not considered to be productive but in fact, they can be productive.
If you go to the Barbados Council of the Disabled, they employ disabled people of all sorts and they are able to take part in producing admin services and support to the BCD,” the president said.
Johnson said as more children are diagnosed with autism, there needs to be a call for awareness and sensitization to their plight. He indicated that the association sought to create a lobby group which addressed the educational requirements for children who have difficulties.
“Most people in the past have taken these children and let them stay at home for the rest of their lives and they are looked after by siblings or relatives and all of a sudden they are swept under the carpet. We are not for that, we are saying they do have abilities, they do `have the same needs as you and I and they should be treated as such,” he emphasized.
“We are trying to reeducate people out here about their potential, their abilities and the fact they are not sociological write-offs, that they will have contributions to make to society, that they will be able to do jobs, they will be able to contribute to the tax base. They will be able to make their own way in life and eventually they will be able to look after themselves at various degrees.”
The president also suggested further educational sensitization programmes for teaching staff and a re-look at the curriculum in schools to facilitate students with autism. He contended that the students did not need “massive amounts of investment in new equipment” but a new approach to teaching.
“They do need sensitization of the staff to a different way of doing things with children who may need more patience so it is a question of using what you have in a different way,” Johnson stated. (KK)