Summer camp aims to support autistic children
Lina Al-Akwa’, the center’s activities coordinator, said the camp aims to strengthen communication between autistic children and society and to enable them to present their creativity to society.
“This camp aims at enabling autistic children to get their rights in living a normal life as well as developing their talents to integrate with society,” Al-Akwa’ said. “This camp includes trips, drawing and soccer games.”
Autism causes growth difficulties that last forever. It affects the way a person communicates with others. Those suffering from autism, be they children or adults, struggle with establishing strong relationships with others and usually have few friends. They don’t understand social norms used to express feelings, according to Khadeeja Al-Siami, responsible for autism early intervention at the center.
Al-Akwa’ said autistic children could face problems learning, and everyone with autism finds it difficult to understand the meaning of life.
Reality is confusing for autistic people, she said. A person might interact with others, with places and with scenes around him but has no clear meaning about their meaning, so they spend their life trying to figure out everything around them.
Autism in Yemen
According to the center, the number of autistic persons is increasing in Yemen, as indicated by the increased enrollment in the center’s programs.
Siham Al-Sdemi, programs coordinator in the center, said, “Children or people of special needs in Yemen grow up in bad situations, according to the known social level in Yemen.”
Moreover, she said an autistic child could live for years indoors because the family feels ashamed of his or her disability or because the outdoors is unsuitable.
“Institutions, restaurants, parks and roads aren’t suitable for them, so it is normal that they are being kept indoors,” Al-Sdemi said. “What worsens the matter is that there is a look of disgrace toward autistic children. People aren’t aware that they lost some abilities of normal people and need only special care.”
Besides, Al-Sdemi said those with disabilities who overcame their diseases proved they were more creative than others. For instance, Al-Baradooni, the late great Yemeni poet, was one of the elite in Yemen despite his blindness.
Al-Sdemi said there are no statistics about the autistic disabled in Yemen, but there are about 1.5 million total disabled persons in the country, and that number includes people who suffer from autism. In most cases, people with disabilities don’t receive the needed medical and psychiatric care. Moreover, they don’t have the ability to integrate with society; therefore, they live away from the society.
“There are no specialized doctors for autism in Yemen, and there is no early diagnosis of the disease,” Al-Sdemi said. “Knowing the disease earlier helps in providing the disabled with the needed help.”
She said families of those with the disease and society as a whole have to understand and be aware of how to deal with the disabled.
Finally, she said the state has to assure that the disabled in Yemen live normal lives by guaranteeing them their rights. Moreover, she said it has to guarantee that they participate in developing and enhancing their society as normal beings.