About 50,000 people are diagnosed with autism in Singapore. And every year, more than 200 children are diagnosed with autism.
But how many people in Singapore actually know about autism spectrum disorder apart from those who live with an autistic individual.
According to the President of the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) Denise Phua, more awareness of autism in Singapore was raised in the last 10 to 15 years.
The vast majority of cases reported by hospitals are that of children ,while those who are diagnosed with autism as adults are typically those with milder forms of the disorder.
But are we in Singapore autism-inclusive, or special-needs inclusive for that matter?
Are we open to accepting people with special needs or people with disabilities?
When we see people with special needs on the public transport or on the streets, do we shun them or give them a weird look?
The following video depicts a mother and her son at the supermarket. The son experiences a meltdown after his supermarket trolley collides against another.
Like the other lady who came across the autistic child and his mother, we often give stares when such meltdowns happen.
But what these families of special needs children need are understanding and some patience.
Popular kids TV programme Sesame Street recently introduced a new character, Julia, who has autism, in a bid to raise awareness of the condition.
Sherrie Westin, executive vice president at Sesame Workshop said that introducing Julia was to “destigmatize autism and address the community at large. We wanted to create greater understanding and awareness of what autism looks like — more understanding, more empathy and, ultimately, more inclusion.”
The special episode of Sesame Street was aired on 10 April on Mediacorp’s okto to generate awareness of the condition and conversations about autism in Singapore.
If we want to be a more inclusive nation where people with special needs can be treated equally and respected, there is definitely a need for greater awareness and education of the condition.