New synergy to boost autism awareness


03-April-2012

The managing director of JOUEL – an affiliate of Diamond SA and Lawless Ltd based in Victoria, Rod Thorrington – and the Children’s Homes Foundation chairperson First Lady Natalie Michel, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to confirm the launch of the project and his firm’s commitment.

The signing – which coincided with World Autism Day – took place at State House in the presence of the Minister for Health Mitcy Larue, Education Minister Macsuzy Mondon, officials from their ministries, representatives of several children’s homes’ partners and other guests.

Speaking after signing the documents, Mrs Michel thanked Mr Thorrington for being very positive towards the cause of Autism in Seychelles.

She said she will continue to rally all partners concerned with the cause to work closer together so as to make the project a success.

The project will include JOUEL sponsoring the necessary tool to support early detection of autism, some of which has already been acquired, while the rest will arrive in the country soon.

The lack of such tools was brought to Mrs Michel’s attention during her interactions with psychologists and other health care and education personnel who work with children.
Mr Thorrington said his company, which is very involved in projects to help children in Seychelles, is delighted to be part of this very active advocacy project.

Autism is a disorder of neural development and is characterised by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviour. For a diagnosis to be made, symptoms must become apparent before a child is three years old.

Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organise. How this occurs is not well understood.
To date there are no exact statistics on autism cases in Seychelles.

Psychologist Patricia Gabriel (first left) giving a short overview on autism to guests including First Lady Michel and Mr Thorrington

In a short overview on the condition here psychologist Patricia Gabriel who works with the Ministry of Education said there are 15 known or suspected cases in children and hopefully the project will help shed more light on the condition and raise more awareness among the population on a condition which is difficult to understand and baffles many parents.

Michelette Caesar, a mother with a child suffering from the condition, also shared her experience with the guests while the Rossignol Choir performed a song which calls for more understanding, tolerance and love in relation to the condition.

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