World Autism Day a reminder that these are worrying times for our children

World Autism Day a reminder that these are worrying times for our children
Danielle Masterson


Danielle Masterson

"NOT every home is a safe place for our children, particularly when it is the only place available", says NI Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma.

Today on World Autism Awareness Day (April 2, 2020), many children throughout the country are being educated from home. Adapting to our new living arrangements puts extra stress on students, teachers and their parents, especially those with special educational needs.

Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma said, “These are incredibly worrying times, not least for children who need more physical, social and emotional support.

"Their reality ‘post pandemic’ may well not be the hazy memories of parents spending more time at home and playing for endless hours, which is being portrayed in the ‘what we will remember when this is all over’ videos on social media.”

According to the Department of Education there are currently 79,000 children and young people in NI on the current Special Educational Needs (SEN) register.

Ms Yiasouma asked that we keep ourselves and loved ones safe by staying at home and also by looking after our frontline key workers so that they can care for those who need it.

The National Autistic Society asks that it is important for all supermarkets to know that:

· Not all disabilities are visible

· An autistic person or someone who cares for an autistic person will not have ‘proof’ of their disability

· Some autistic people may follow strict diets and require specific foods

· Autistic people may need more time to process information and instructions.

During these concerning times, there is an extra strain on families. Children of key workers will continue to require care and education outside of their homes.

“However, as we know, sadly not every home is a safe place for our children particularly when it is the only place available," the Commissioner added.

"Importantly some teachers, social workers or childcare workers may not be able to work outside their home in this crisis and there is important work for them to do to ensure that our children where possible, are educated and cared for remotely and effectively.

"There are groups of children and young people who will continue to require an element of physical contact and care and for these children, we must also find an appropriate way forward.”

The Education Authority offers key workers a school replacement application for children whose school who have closed.

Ms Yiasouma said, “It is apparent that we have not abandoned our humanity and we can see the commitment to children and young people from across Northern Ireland.”

The National Autistic Society NI are currently is running a 7k for 700k campaign. For those wanting to get involved there are a number of exercising options which can be done at home on their website to help complete the 7k

“These thousands of children needed our help before the crisis, they need our help even more now,” added Ms Yiasouma.

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