- Autism: Another Pandemic -
Many years ago, I decided that professionally I wanted to work in the social area, participating actively with social solidarity institutions in Portugal.
For that same reason, I contacted an endless list of national organisations in order to present my contribution to one of those causes. Taking into account that many of them were, and still are, living with many economic difficulties, I did not get an answer to my email, from the vast majority of these institutions.
In the middle of this ocean of silence, one institution stood out.
After receiving my email, the director of the ABC Real Centre, Albertina Marçal, made me a counter-proposal: instead of me asking what I could do for them, she wanted to know what the Centre could do for me. What opportunities did they have for me, taking into account the financial difficulties they experienced? They needed help. I must confess, that the answer - so different from so many others - echoed in the midst of that silence of causes, which remain unknown to most of us, all our lives.
After meeting Albertina, I realised that the ABC Real Centre was a revolutionary institution in Portugal, made up of a lot of work, and that it subsisted thanks to the hope that existed around that pioneering project, in the area of Autism. By consulting the website: http://www.centroabcreal.com/ we get a glimpse of what it is all about:
The ABCReal Portugal Centre is a Portuguese intervention centre for the treatment of Autism and other Global Development Disorders, Global Development Delay, Attention Disorders, Learning Difficulties, Hyperactivity, Child Psychosis and other Frontal Wolf Disorders. In addition, they are pioneers in the application of ABA treatment, being scientifically and technically supervised by one of the oldest and most prestigious international organizations, Applied Behavior Consultants, ABC Inc., specialized in Global Developmental Disorders.
The parent organization is American, and all the work of this institution can be found at: https://www.abcreal.com/
I was frankly surprised at the scope and resilience of this cause, when I realised that - in addition to Covid-19 - we are also facing a real pandemic here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are 70 million people in the world with autism. In the midst of despair, parents are betting on various therapies, and there is practically no public aid, since the health systems are incapable of responding to the number of people and families affected by this disorder.
We are talking about 70 million people!
Apart from all the prejudices surrounding autism, the lack of information seems to render efforts to draw society's attention to this pandemic useless. It is both a mental, behavioral and neurological disorder: it is extremely complex and costly to treat.
Fighting a battle for autism requires a lot of work and a lot of resilience: in addition, it involves giving the people, the information and tools necessary to understand it. I believe it is possible to change the current approach to autism. The results will be visible in the long term: instead of individuals dependent on states and families, we will have people who can actively contribute to their societies.
But one thing is certain: it is possible to do more and better, and that is why, in my blog, I have decided to dedicate a communication specifically to Autism. Be attentive. I will write more about it again!
- by Maria Inês Rebelo
Fore more information about the Autism:
Autism Society - https://www.autism-society.org/
National Institute of Mental Health - https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml
National Autistic Society, UK - https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml
American Autism Association, US - https://www.autismspeaks.org/provider/american-autism-association
Federação Portuguesa de Autismo, PT - https://www.autismspeaks.org/provider/american-autism-association
Bundesverband Hilfe fur das autistische Kind, Vereinigung zur Forderung autistischer Menschen e. V. - www.autismus.de