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Tonga to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 will be commemorated with a special prayer service at the Mango Tree Centre in Houmakelikao.

Families and friends of the 16 children diagnosed with autism in the Kingdom, will be the honoured guests at the prayer service organized exclusively for them and will be attended by the loyal supporters of Autism Tonga.

Autism Tonga says many people are now aware of autism but few understand what it means to live with autism, and that lack of understanding hampers the inclusion of these children into society.

To overcome that obstacle, mothers and families of children with autism voluntarily formed Autism Tonga in 2013 with the aim of raising awareness in Tonga, for people to understand autism, to accept and respect the rights of those with autism, and never to discriminate them in the society.

The United Nations’ General Assembly declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day, and the UN’s Secretary General Ban KI-moon’s message last year highlighted that “while persons with autism naturally have a wide range of abilities and different areas of interest, they all share the capacity for making our world a better place.”

The Secretary General pointed out that “to shun people with autism, is a violation of human rights and a waste of human potential.”

A person with autism will have difficulty speaking, sometimes lack spoken vocabularies and can individually have their own unique sensory problems. Most individuals living with autism have repetitive behaviour and social-interaction difficulties as well.

Last year on World Autism Awareness Day, one of the Tongan mother’s caring for her 10 year old autistic son in Nukuꞌalofa called upon all caregivers of children living with autism to never to be burdened if told your child is autistic. In her own words she said, “I encourage mothers to be strong, and come to Autism Tonga if you think your child has got these symptoms, we can share our knowledge and work together to find peace for our children, and for you to better understand living with your child.”

Autism Tonga has raised awareness about autism since 2013 and welcomes those who wish to show their support by wearing light blue coloured clothes throughout the month of April or purchase the hand-made pins made to support the ongoing awareness campaign. LoopTonga
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