Municipal autism strategies, neurodiverse hiring, heartwarming global support groups, and Guinness Book records – the year 2021 was a remarkable year for the global autism community in more ways than one. Even as the world continued to deal with the ongoing pandemic, we saw tremendous progress in terms of autism awareness and acceptance.
As the year 2021 comes to an end, we look back at the year that was – in international autism news. Read along!
UK’s five-year national strategy
In order to improve the lives of children, young people, and adults with autism across the country, the United Kingdom government has announced a new five-year national strategy. The announcement came at the heels of the global coronavirus pandemic and various other barriers faced by the autism community on multiple fronts over the years. The government has earmarked funds worth £75m for these tasks.
US Congress’ appeal for an increase in autism-related expenditure
About 90 members of the US Congress have appealed to federal government officials for an increment of $150 million in the expenditure on autism. The increase has been specifically recommended for the agencies engaged in autism-related research and services. Congress is of the opinion that the funding could help in filling any gaps in research and services.
First-ever municipal autism strategy
Sault Ste. Marie, a city in the Ontario province of Canada has devised and implemented the first-ever municipal autism strategy in the world. This initiative was aimed at making it easier for people with autism and their caregivers to avail themselves of the services at their disposal. It focuses on creating an autism services inventory and a roadmap for the caregivers to inform them of the services. It also includes the formulation of design guidelines for the creation of spaces, mindful of the sensory needs of autistic individuals.
Accessible science education through MicroToons
Microbiologist and science educator Dr Rina Fu, in collaboration with Red Bird Creative, has launched MicroToons – fun and engaging cartoons aimed at providing science education to children with special needs. 4lifeskills, an NGO engaged in teaching valuable life skills to people with intellectual and physical disabilities premiered MicroToons at one of their events in August. The project has been funded by the National Science Week grant offered by the Australian Government’s Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology.
Sesame Street added more autism resources
American TV show, ‘Sesame Street,’ has expanded its repertoire of autism resources in a joint effort with Exceptional Minds, an academy that trains autistic youth for a career in graphics and animation. The new rollout features Julia (the first autistic character on Sesame Street) in an animated video along with printable activity sheets. It is aimed at helping children with autism create healthy routines, develop calming strategies, build resilience and cope with the challenges of change during turbulent times.
Global support group for grandparents with autistic grandchildren
A 64-year-old American grandmother of two autistic kids from Massachusetts, Carol Vincent has started a Facebook support group for other grandparents like her. Drawing from her personal experiences, her aim is to raise more awareness about the condition as well as help the senior citizens in her situation become more engaged grandparents.
Mr and Miss Autism Ghana
The first-ever edition of Mr and Miss Autism Ghana was organized by NGO Afi Antonio Foundation in 2021. Yacoba Tete-Marmon was crowned Miss Autism Ghana while Nana Sakyi Addo-Dankwa won the title of Mr Autism Ghana. The event aimed at empowering people with autism by promoting social inclusion and removing the social stigma associated with the condition.
An 11-year-old autistic girl entered the Guinness Book of Records
Sanaa Hiremath, an eleven-year-old Indian-origin girl from the USA has entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for her remarkable skills in math. She holds the record for the largest mental arithmetic multiplication for which she performed the multiplication of a twelve-digit number entirely in her mind in less than ten minutes. Sanaa is largely non-verbal and was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.
The year 2021 was generously sprinkled with several little victories worthy of a big celebration! Here’s hoping 2022 rides the same wave and gives the autism community many more opportunities to rejoice.