In light of World Autism Awareness Day, Autism Okanagan has highlighted some of its year-round resources for people who have or work with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Some of these supports are the Young Ambassadors Program, which is a social group for young adults ages 18 to 25 to help them develop workplace skills.
“We bring in guest speakers, we have volunteers who help with resume building and preparing and dressing for an interview. People on the spectrum don’t think that way, they don’t think about dressing up for certain events or as simple as looking your waitress in the eye when ordering something. When we started running this program there were young adults that couldn’t even look up from the floor and now they are communicating with others and have built lifelong friendships,” said Tracy Vrecko, the president of Autism Okanagan.
“This is a difficult thing to do because there aren’t many integrated sports programs in the region which include youth on the spectrum. We focus on coordination, participating as a group, getting kids to interact and learn the sport,” explained Vrecko.
She added this is the first year the adaptive hockey program has been extended to adults, including woman and men ages 16 and up.
“Awareness is the key to understanding. Continuing to recognize Autism Spectrum Disorder each year on April 2 is another step in the right direction and is what helps keep programs like these running,” said Vrecko.
Kelowna Autism Walk 2019 is geared towards increasing community cognizance of the disorder, it is set for May 5, 2019.
Other Initiatives for Autism Awareness include: Ready Willing and Able Work program, Employment Works Work program, Awareness for First responders and I can Fly program.
A proclamation declaring April second World Autism Awareness Day in Kelowna, read by Mayor Colin Basran said, one in 51 children ages six to 18 in B.C. have been identified as having ASD. In Canada, ASD a is 4.5 times more common in boys than girls.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication as well as unique strengths and differences.
For more information on ASD and supports in your community visit Autism Okanagan.