By Bejay Browne
THE CYPRUS autism association has received a boost following the delivery of a new mini bus made possible by a substantial donation from the Limassol-based Dashin foundation.
Andrey and Julia Dashin’s Foundation granted a cheque for €15,000, which meant the association could purchase a new 8-seater Nissan NV200. After recently taking delivery, the association was then able to relocate their old, smaller bus to the autistic centre in Paphos, which had been without transport for more than six months.
“Raising awareness about autism and also making the centres more accessible to parents with autistic children will help improve our work, which is to provide special education and care for persons suffering from autism,” said Tasoula Georgiadou, president of the Cyprus Autism Association.
The association has established specialised centres in Limassol, Paphos and Nicosia that cater to rehabilitation, education, health, employment and protection for autistic children and adults.
In the future, the association aims to create a centre with diagnostic programmes, treatment and residential care, where people with autism can live with a sense of independence and dignity.
The Limassol centre currently provides care for nine adults and 33 children. It offers a daily educational development programme taught by specialised staff. The pupils are collected by staff members and brought to the centre to study.
Once a week, the centre also takes the students for a day out either in town or the countryside to aid social education.
A spokesperson for the Dashin foundation said: “There are a growing number of pupils using these facilities and that is why it was so important to acquire a second, larger, modern mini-bus for the centre. We were happy to be able to help.”
The Paphos branch of the association has benefited from being given the minibus previously serving Limassol, as it had been without transport for more than six months.
“We used to have a bus but it was old and broke down on a daily basis. It was dangerous, so we had to stop using it. The pupils were stuck at the centre and it was boring for them,” said the principal of the Paphos centre Marina Fylaktou. “Now we are able to go to the seaside, the mall, restaurants, shopping and so on. Being out and about helps them so much.”
The Paphos branch currently offers classes and daily activities for four adults and four young children. Fylaktou says she is hoping that this number will grow and that they are hoping to attract more parents.
“People with autism are not able to express themselves with other people. So it’s important that we teach social skills and how to interact with others.”
According to the association, autism is the most rapidly developing disorder in the world and affects around one in sixty people; there is no known cause or medial cure.
For more information visit www.autismsociety.org.cy or call Paphos centre director Marina Fylaktou on 26 221346 or [email protected]