On behalf of the Raffles Community Advocates
As a typical bored student scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed on the 30th of March, you may have noticed that a number of friends suddenly set the exact same profile pictures. How exactly did this mysterious phenomenon happen?
For those curious souls out there, the 30th of March marked the start of Autism Awareness Week.
As the name might suggest, this is a week for the spreading of awareness for autism. But before going into what Autism Awareness means, the bigger question is: why dedicate an entire week to it? Beyond vague recollections of Rainman, Forrest Gump, or that Jodie-Picoult-character-you can’t-really-remember-the-name-of, (they were all… kind of autistic…. right? right?), nothing really comes to mind about about autism besides silly insults that are supposed to be insensitive to…. some unfortunate people you’ve never met.
And therein lies the problem – unlike the widely touted diseases of cancer and heart disease, no one really knows what autism really is.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability characterized by great difficulty in forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. Does that mean that that socially awkward guy who sits in the corner of your class is autistic? Not necessarily so. Autism is an actual diagnosable condition (which we will be telling you more about this week) however, the most important thing is that it is just a label – a label that does not define who they are. Yes, there are differences. But what is more important is that they are just like us, with big dreams, big beliefs and big aspirations. These people could be so much more, yet much of their potential is being thrown away because we tend to focus on the disability itself rather than them as people.
And that’s why we have World Autism Awareness Week. To show that children on the autism spectrum shouldn’t be viewed any differently. To lift the chains of prejudices and stereotypes that we shackle them with. To prove to the world that autism is a word, not a lifelong sentence. This WAAW, challenge yourself to look beyond. Everyone has aspirations, and everyone is a winner in their own right.
So, what can you look forward to in this WAAW?
Like and follow the Facebook page at http://www.tinyurl.com/RIWAAW2014, as members of Community Advocates bring to you facts and myths about autism. Check back daily to receive new updates and opportunities to do more to help children on the autism spectrum! We will also be featuring stories and experiences from various Rafflesians, so do check it out.
Apart from that do also look out for #riwaaw hashtags on Twitter. It would be great if you could use the hashtags and tweet about the new things you have learnt this week! CA will be displaying a live Twitter feed in the canteen during your break times alongside some videos they’ll be screening regarding autism. In the canteen, you might also find that each table has pieces of paper attached to it containing facts and short excerpts on autism that you can take the time to read and learn more about.
Last but not least, do look forward to our extremely excited and ferociously friendly CA members approaching you with their eager whiteboards at the end of WAAW and be bold in sharing what you have learnt from it and how your perception of people on the autistic spectrum has changed!
World Autism Awareness Week 2014. Celebrating colours in our lives.
If you’ve got interesting facts/quotes/personal anecdotes/videos/photos/projects/anything related to autism to share, we want to hear from you! Head over to http://www.tinyurl.com/riwaaw2014submissions and say whatever you want to say. We’re also open to questions being asked.
Have a great autism awareness week ahead, all!