Media Release Autism Awareness Day 2014

Media Release
Sabio Communications March 2014
World Autism Awareness Day: A message of Hope

World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is commemorated each year on 2 April. This day was set
aside by the United Nations in 2008, to create awareness around the condition and support people affected by the autism. Because of the significance of focussing on autism and facilitating anunderstanding of the condition, it has become common practise to use WAAD as the starting point for Autism Awareness Month, dedicating the whole of April to this cause.

Autism is a condition that affects children, regardless of race, ethnicity or economic background. Thecondition is more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, paediatric cancer and childhood AIDS combined. As a childhood development autism impairing the ability to communicate and understand language, autism is four times more common in boys than in girls.

Although South Africa does not have any accurate statistics on autism in SA, the condition is
acknowledged as the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the world, with about 67
million people affected by autism globally. In the US, the CDC (Centres for Control and Disease
Prevention) estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum autism (ASD), presenting autism related symptoms. The fact that autism has an apparent worldwide pervasiveness is a central reason behind the institution of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD).

“The day is about drawing attention to autism related symptoms and the possible solutions in dealing with autism. Shedding light on the prevailing myth that autism is incurable is also a significant aspect of WAAD,” says Ilana Gershlowitz, Director at The Star Academy, which provides tailor made programmes for children with autism. Case study research shows numerous examples of children who have fully recovered from autism and many children who begin therapy early, have shown dramatic improvements, if not full recovery.

The Star Academy uses one of the cutting edge effective treatments for autism, that of Applied
Behaviour analysis or ABA. This therapy uses techniques to bring about positive and significant
behavioural changes in children with autism. One such technique is that of positive reinforcement, fostering basic skills such as eye contact, listening and behaviour imitation as well as more complex skills such as reading, communicating and being able to understand something from a different point of view.

“Our main aim is to facilitate the children in overcoming their individual challenges and making them more functional and independent. This is part of the fundamental message of World Autism Day, the fact that with the appropriate treatment, children with autism can improve their condition,” says Gerschlowitz, mother to 11 year old David, who has autism.

World Awareness Day encourages people to become more aware of symptoms of autism so as to
facilitate early diagnosis and early intervention. It is a day which unites all autism organisations on a global level, to create a platform which educates people about the condition and its possible

“One of the most important messages of World Autism Awareness Day is the message of hope.
Despite the fact that the condition is on the increase, today there are specific therapies available,
giving children with autism the chance to reach their full potential. We invite South Africans to come together on 2 April to show solidarity in supporting this significant day for all those people living with the conditiom,” concludes Gerschlowitz.

Please visit The Star Academy website for further information and advice on treatment options for children with autism www.thestaracademy.co.za

Deena Hesp
(t) 011 802 2785 (c) 082 521 0701
on behalf of:
Ilana Gershowitz
The Star Academy
(t) 011 440 7796