President of the Autism Association of Barbados, Lawton Walcott says there are not many facilities for children with the condition and much more sensitisation is still needed.
He was speaking today as the Association was presented with a 20-inch Dell desktop computer and a printer, by the Scotiabank’s Lending Services Unit at the Bank’s CGI Towers, Warrens, St. Michael offices.
The Unit’s Kathy-Ann Joseph said the donation was the bank’s way of giving back to a worthwhile cause. The presentation was the result of fundraising efforts by the Unit’s 14-member team, which held periodic cookie sales throughout the year as well as a fund-raising raffle.
Walcott said the donation would go some ways towards helping with the training and sensitisation efforts of the body.
He noted that training in identifying the traits of persons with autism was one of their primary objectives, in addition to further outfitting their Respite Centre with the personnel and equipment needed.
He said too that it was unfortunate that there were no figures in Barbados of persons diagnosed with autism.
“I think we are going to have to move to address that very soon, but if we take the ratio from abroad, the United States, nearly 3,000 persons in Barbados may be affected,” he said.
Association board member, Ken Farrell added: “The reason you wouldn’t hear about it, unfortunately is because most people, it doesn’t matter what the sickness is, there is a stigma and parents stay at home unfortunately and keep the children at home, so they themselves are disadvantaged because they can’t work and the child becomes less exposed.
“So our aim is to have a facility whereby we can have the child at the facility, the parent can go out and work and then return for the child. Our long-term goal is to have a Respite Centre whereby, let’s say on weekend you can bring your child in and get your rest. There are a number of things we have in the pipeline,” he confessed.
Walcott said there were more and more children being diagnosed and they were hoping to have at least one teacher in each school trained in what to look for in identifying children with autism. This was one of the reasons, he said, that they were working with Erdiston Teachers’ Training College to have classes there. (LB)