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Autism Awareness Day

Written by Katariina Keinonen (5 Apr 2016)

UN Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd was celebrated in Finland by organizing the first ever Finnish charity gala for autism. In addition to the main event, several smaller gatherings were held across the country. Headsted took part in a seminar focusing on the use of technology in the rehabilitation for autism. The seminar gave a chance for people with autism spectrum disorder and their families, as well as people working with autism spectrum disorders, to come together and discuss the new opportunities technology has to offer.

Headsted has started an important and interesting project in Seinäjoki, Finland, that aims to improve the wellbeing and rehabilitation of people with neuropsychiatric disorders. The project is a collaboration with Headsted and Eskoo Center for Disability Empowerment. The development work in Seinäjoki will span the whole year of 2016 and it will include training in the methods used in the Value Your Self online programme and integrating the use of the programme in the current daily work.

The project is based the experiences we had with a small pilot in Eskoo in the fall of 2015. The results were very encouraging and the employees felt the program had a lot to offer. Thanks to the pilot we can also avoid some of the pitfalls that were recognized and take them into consideration now that the program will be made available to larger groups. One of the most important assets Value Your Self has to offer in Eskoo was named to be the possibility for the client to become an active subject instead of being in a role of a patient who is being rehabilitated. The experiences have also shown that even though Value Your Self covers topics that may sound difficult at first, the themes have been a good fit in this environment as well. We will be covering the project in our blog during the year as it progresses.

Katariina presents examples of the experiences from the pilot project: "The client started really contemplating on the questions in Value Your Self and gave different options a lot of thought. He verbalized his insights very accurately."

The Autism Awareness Day kick-started Autism Awareness month, which is a great time to familiarize yourself with basic knowledge on the subject. Estimates suggest autism spectrum disorders can be diagnosed for about 1% of the population. The spectrum of autism has a wide variety of shades and the individual situations can look drastically different. There is plenty of great information available on the pages of National Autistic Society: http://www.autism.org.uk/about.aspx

You can also find information on how to get involved and help locally or nationally. Another good resource is the website of Autism Alliance: http://www.autism-alliance.org.uk/about-autism/what-is-autism. Here you can also find knowledge of research in the field of autism spectrum disorder.

In Finland, the President Sauli Niinistö has accepted the invitation to become the protector of Autism Awareness Day and Month presented by the Autism Foundation Finland. With this great example, we hope the understanding on autism spectrum disorders will spread and encourage more people to join in on helping the individuals with autism spectrum disorders as well as their families and close ones.