World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day has been observed on April 2 since 2008, and Cyprus is among the participants. This year the focus is on the contribution of autistic people at home, at work, in the arts and policymaking.
On that day, the whole world participates in the “Light It Up Blue” action organized by the Autism Speaks Foundation, which advocates for the rights of people with autism to claim their dignity and self-esteem and to become fully integrated as valued members of their families and societies. Thirty buildings across Cyprus are illuminated with blue lights: the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, the Archeological Museum of Limassol, castles and forts, the Khirokitia Neolithic settlement, the Archaeological site of Amathus, cultural centres and municipalities.
Several non-governmental organizations registered in Cyprus are dedicated to advocating and supporting young people with autism spectrum disorder. They primarily assist with early diagnostics, socialization, and integrating autistic people into society. One of the most critical aspects of their work is getting people with autism employed, thus leading them to reach their full potential and helping them build meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Over 2.000 children with autism in Cyprus, yet only half attend classes in specialized centres. Our Foundation is working to help create a local community where neurodivergent children feel accepted, represented, included, empowered, and heard. We support them by sponsoring a specialized educational program, “Alice Discovers,” based on the Little Odysseus’ methodology. As part of the program, events are regularly held with the participation of our students from the special units of public schools, the vast majority of whom are children with autism.
A dedicated event with twenty-two children and their families took place on April 2 in the Limassol Municipality library to celebrate diversity and inclusion. Our superb education expert and storyteller, Angela, engaged the children in a treasure hunt around the library premises, spring-themed drawing, and an engaging journey with the mischievous books’ characters. A festive bubble show rounded up the event, followed by gifting of presents.
This day was dedicated to a vital cause, so we wanted to spend it with our dear children and their families. We wanted to stress that autistic people might have additional needs, nevertheless, limitless possibilities. Raising kids with autism is not easy, yet their life can and should be fulfilling and happy. These children on the spectrum are different, but those who manage to get through to them discover a universe of out-of-the-box thinking and see the world beyond its regular borders, the multiple levels of natural talents of autistic kids and their encompassing love.