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One child in 58 births has autism

interior ministry lit blue in a previous year
The interior ministry lit up blue for for the recent autism day

The percentage of children with autism has increased globally but there are no exact figures for the island, Cyprus Autism Society president Tasoula Georgiadou said on Tuesday amid activities to mark World Autism Day.

Georgiadou said in Cyprus there has never been an official record of numbers but according to data drawn from global statistics, a child with autism is identified in every 58 births – which she called a “huge number”.

At the moment, the Autism Society offers services and support to 600 families, but Georgiadou said she is certain there are more in need.

However, the NGO is unable to serve any more, she said, as day and treatment centres are overcrowded, which has led to the creation of waiting lists.

She said more spaces and facilities are needed, but the NGO does not have any privately owned spaces and instead rents about ten buildings at a great expense.

Asked about the challenges facing parents of children with autism, Georgiadou said that “it takes a lot of mental strength and a lot of support, so that parents can keep a healthy environment in their home and not break up the family.

“It is important, at the point of diagnosis, for parents to have a framework of support which will empower and guide them to manage the situation,” she added.

She stressed that acceptance of children with autism and their inclusion in society are imperative. Only then can we be a healthy and whole society, she said.

Referring to the efforts being made to change the legislation concerning people with disabilities in consultation with the Cyprus Confederation of Disability Organisations (Kysoa), she said that the state must take into account all other organisations serving people with disabilities.

“We cannot be absent from the consultation on the legislation, which will be able to determine important things in general for people with disabilities,” she said. “Let all the organisations sit at the table, before they end up changing the legislation”.

The society has planned a series of events on Tuesday evening to mark World Autism Day, with marches to take place in Nicosia, Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca.

Georgiadou explained that various actions are taking place all over the world, with the aim of raising awareness and informing the public about autism. Cyprus has been participating in this global event for 14 years.

Held under the auspices of the first lady, the marches will set off at 7pm in each city.

In Nicosia, the march will start from the House of Representatives and finish at Eleftheria Square.

In Limassol, it will set off from the Limassol municipality and finish at the Old Port Square.

In Paphos, the march will begin at Kykkos Lyceum and finish at Paphos municipality, while in Larnaca it will set off from the Pierides Museum and finish in Zouchori Square.

Later, at 8pm, central buildings and historical monuments in the capitals of various countries, including Cyprus, will be illuminated in blue, the colour chosen to represent autism.

 

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