Autism Awareness Day 2019 Organized by Mathavam - Center for Neurological disorders

World Autism Awareness Day is commemorated on the 2nd of April, every year. To commemorate this day in Jaffna, Mathavam - Center for Neuro-Developmental Disorders organized several events in different parts of the city.

As the first part of these events, the Regional Directorate of Health Services organized a discussion on the 1st of April, 2019. The chief guest for the event was Mr. N. Vethanayakan, the Government Agent of Jaffna. Doctors, parents, health and education officers, and well-wishers too part in this event, where many shared their experiences with and expectations regarding the services for autistic children.

On this occasion, an aspiring young architect, Ms. J. Jeny, presented her design for a building for Mathavam, which she had designed.

The design for Mathavam
A few people who shared their thoughts and experiences in the discussion, including the chief guest, Mr. N. Vethanayakan (bottom left), and Ms. Jeny (bottom right).

On the 2nd of April, a balloon release was organized at the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna, in which many doctors, and staff of the Teaching Hospital, along with the parents of the autistic children, and the Mathavam staff, gathered in front of the hospital to release the balloons.

Afterwards, a similar event was organized at the Chief Secretariate, Northern Province, in Kaithady, in which many parents, staff and officials partook.

Doctors, parents and other staff members gathered in front of the General Teaching Hospital (above), and the Chief Secretariate, Northern Province, in Kaithady (below).

In addition to these events, several cutouts promoting Autism Awareness was hand-painted by a team of volunteers in Mathavam. These hand-made displays were exhibited in several prominent places, including Jaffna Public Library, Cargills Square,The Thinnai hotel, Tilko hotel, and Jetwing hotel.

The Autism Awareness Day cutouts displayed at (clockwise from top left): The Thinnai hotel, Cargills Square, Jaffna Public Library, Tilko hotel, and Jetwing hotel.

On the evening of the 2nd of April, a get-together was organized at Mathavam, for the families of the Autistic children. On this occasion, a new, temporary educational space for grown up children with Autism was ceremonially opened by Mr. Kumaran, a well-wisher.

Moments from the get-together, including the ceremonial opening of the new educational space (above left), the new building itself (above center), and the new water-play area (lower right).

Various social media, and mass media were also utilized to promote Autism Awareness. The staff of Mathavam gave small interviews in TubeTamil FM, and Dan tv. The events organized by Mathavam were covered by TubeTamil FM and Dan tv.

Arrangements were made to publish articles about Autism in prominent newspapers during the month of April.

Stickers promoting Autism awareness were made and pasted on three-wheelers and buses, and handouts containing the Autism red-flag signs were handed out to the public. These activities were enthusiastically carried out by the parents.

An Autism awareness sticker on a three-wheeler (left), and a newspaper clipping covering the events organized by Mathavam (right)

A couple of short videos were made by a team of volunteers, to promote Autism awareness via social media.

One video was created not only for spreading Autism awareness, but also for highlighting the service provided by Mathavam. This video was made in both Tamil and English. The Tamil version was telecasted in Dan tv at regular intervals throughout the day.

Another short videos was made by looping together some photos of the hand-works made by the Autistic children. This was widely circulated on online platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook.

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