You’ve likely heard of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but understanding them is a different matter all together. ASD refers to lifelong disorders that impact the way people communicate, learn, and relate to one another—Autism is one of them.
Autism is caused by a disorder that prevents the brain’s development in areas of social interaction and communication skills. At least one in every 165 Canadian children has an ASD according to the Geneva Centre for Autism. Rates of children diagnosed has jumped by 63% in the last two years alone.
While therapies and interventions exist that can help those with Autism lead more productive lives, the costs associated with them are often more than the average family can afford.
Reaching out for help itself can be a challenge—especially in the South Asian community. Language barriers and stigmas associated with mental health disorders prevent open dialogue and alienate those who need help in their own communities.
That’s where an organization like SAAAC comes in. Since 2008 the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre has been working to meet the need for a culturally sensitive approach to Autism in the GTA. Made up of dedicated volunteers, ranging from university students to professionals, SAAAC helps families access therapies such as Music, Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), and Speech every week. These therapies help increase verbal and physical activity creating an environment for meaningful social interaction.
SAAAC strives to support the parents of children with Autism as well, by offering programming that allows them to connect with and support one another, and empowers them to seek resources, services, and advocate more vocally for their child.
SAAAC’s two programs for parents are Coffee With SAAAC and SAFE (South Asian Family Empowerment) which is funded by East Metro Youth Services and United Way. Interested in supporting SAAAC? SAAAC’s main fundraiser—Radiant Night—takes place annually in March. The funds raised through this event help to support standard and unique therapies for the families that SAAAC serves.
A great opportunity for supporters of SAAAC to celebrate the accomplishments of the organization, and to show support for continued growth, Radiant Night 2012 will be taking place on March 3, 2012.
Find out more about Radiant Night, and upcoming SAAAC initiatives on Facebook.
—Nive Thambithurai, Editor (Entertainment, Spotlight)