hile April is officially World Autism Awareness Month, encouraging people and communities to expand their knowledge and understanding of autism and build support for people living with the condition is a year-round priority for those who have dedicated their lives to this cause.
In support of the countless people diagnosed with autism in South Africa and the families affected by this condition, Vuma, one of the country’s leading fibre providers, recently partnered with the Autism Western Cape (AWC), sponsoring the foundation’s Art with Autism event that took place in April.
“We are proud to have the support of Vuma for both our Art Exhibition, as well as our online learning platform which will help to train 30 individuals and provide them with the knowledge to understand the diagnosis,” continues Dube. “This partnership enables us to establish a skills and development platform for individuals on the spectrum, their families and allied health care practitioners working in the field. Not only will this make training possible and more accessible, it also increases our reach to all nine of the country’s provinces. This essentially helps us to have more of a ripple effect within communities and owes to the creation of a more inclusive society for autistic individuals – an essential need we work tirelessly to address”
Realising that the focus on autism should extend beyond a single month, Vuma has also announced that it will continue its partnership with the Els for Autism Foundation, a non-profit organisation serving individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Through the partnership, which began in 2020, the fibre provider has helped the NPO raise funds and create awareness for children with autism through donations and sponsorships of events like the Els for Autism Golf Series. The Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Ernie and Liezl Els, a few years after their son was diagnosed with autism.
Since its inception, the foundation has provided families across the globe with best-practice interventions and support. The foundation funds research into autism and the development and delivery of treatment therapies. It also focuses on educational, training, and sports programmes. These global outreach programmes aim to drive autism awareness and share best practice around treatment to promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with ASD.
“Vuma’s partnerships with theses foundations form part of our wider commitment to not only connect ordinary South Africans to extraordinary opportunities but also make a tangible difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society,” says Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, Vuma’s Cape Town Regional Director. “Our ultimate goal is to expand on this partnership and provide more equal opportunities for children living with autism.”
“The AWC’s foundation’s efforts align with Vuma’s goal to help wherever possible because we can, and to create lasting value in the lives of people in our communities. We want to empower our youth through initiatives such as these, which, when coupled with access to connectivity and education, create better opportunities for more people,” adds Van Der Westhuizen.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about one in 270 people is on the autism spectrum, with the abilities and needs of people with autism varying and evolving. While some of the diverse conditions that make up ASD can be detected in early childhood, autism is often not diagnosed until much later.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 1 in every 54 (1.9%) 8-year-old children were identified as having ASD in 2016.To learn more about the Autism Western Cape and how to pledge your support, visit www.autismwesterncape.org.za .