Rowan McEwan photographed in his classroom at Queen’s Royal College. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

This is the beginning of Autism Awareness month. Like the last month with Down Syndrome we are going to be seeing and hearing a lot about Autism. What it is, what it means, how it manifests, how it impacts on the Autistic’s life and even more importantly how WE impact on their lives.

The last week was a reminder that Trinidad and Tobago is nowhere near ready to immediately treat with the needs of not only Autistics but of all children with disabilities. As far as we can see the first step toward transformation is admittance, the admittance that we do have an issue with no solid infrastructural support for Autistics and other Persons with Disabilities across Ministries.

For the state to continue using the age old excuse that organisations within the Disability community are constantly fighting and that is a part of the reason the state is not meeting its obligations to Persons with Disabilities, is a cop out to say the least.

Siblings in most households fight all the time, this does not negate parental responsibility to meet their children’s needs especially when they have been made aware of what is needed by their children to help them thrive.

Transformation is not an overnight process. It can be long and slow but part of transformation requires us to dust off the recommendations made in the past and actually attempt to implement solutions. There has been a failure on our part to leave old behaviours behind and to embrace new philosophies in a world where excuses are out and respecting humanity is in.

We acknowledge and endorse a new series for the month of April by Autism Spirit co-founders Michelle Foreman and Tracy Hutchinson Wallace called #JustOneParent #JustOneChild that will showcase stories from parents of Autistics to shine a light on their experiences in the understanding that any child being unsupported by the system is one child too much.

It is our hope that all of the Autism organisations will stand together in lobbying the state for services and supports for all Autistics.


Laura Escayg