As World Autism Awareness Day was celebrated worldwide on 2 April and April is also Autism Awareness Month, the Mkondo autism supporters will be marching to create awareness for autism on 9 April.
Riddle Child by Annelie Botes (originally published in Afrikaans as Raaiselkind), tells the story of a young mother and life with her autistic child. Botes weaves an intricate tale of the difficulties of sharing life with a person diagnosed with autism, making the reader feel like he or she completely understands what the characters are going through. Even the most brutally honest of novels can, however, not completely relay the tragedy of autism and its devastating effect on families. The truth is that, in the end, reading about autism and living with autism are two very different things. ‘Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)’ and ‘autism’ are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. ASD manifests itself in the first three years of life and people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.
Verbal and nonverbal communication, associated with repetitive behaviour and social interaction difficulties (in varying degrees depending on the severity of the disorder), are characteristics of these autistic disorders. In recent years the word ‘autism’ has changed from a mere whisper in doctors’ consulting rooms to a word more frequently heard and spoken throughout society, since more and more children are being diagnosed as autistic. More awareness must, however, be created in order to increase and develop knowledge of autism and stress the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. That is why the month of April is World Autism Month and World Autism Awareness Day was celebrated worldwide on 2 April.
World Autism Awareness Day shone a light on autism as a growing global health crisis. Part of this day was the “Light It Up Blue” campaign where over 160 countries got involved in the awareness campaign by lighting up landmarks, buildings and cities, and flying blue flags all around the world. On Saturday, 9 April, the Mkhondo Autism Supporters will be marching in blue to show their solidarity with people diagnosed with autism and their families. Wear something blue and join in the march to show such a family that their child, although different, is not a riddle, but just a child.