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Autism Awareness Week 2019

Last week - October 7th to 11th - was Autism Awareness Week 2019. This week has been about raising awareness around the theme of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and countering stereotypes that exist around ASD.

Being a spectrum disorder, ASD impacts people in many different ways. On the more severe end of the spectrum, students may be non-verbal. Whereas, on the other end, students may not exhibit many overt symptoms at all. In fact, all of us are on the spectrum in some ways, and all Autism really means is looking at the world in a slightly different way.

Before Autism Awareness Week began, students had an assembly on the common traits of people on the spectrum. Students learned that ASD is characterised by difficulties in social communication and also having fixed and repetitive interests. It can also cause what is called “sensory overload” when there are too many things going on at one time (such as in a classroom).

Autism Awareness Week 2019

Students also learned about one particular individual on the spectrum who has been on the news a lot recently: Greta Thuneburg. She has been making headlines, not only for her action on climate change but also for her bold stance on her diagnosis. Greta has found that her diagnosis, rather than hold her back, has given her the focus and strength she has needed to address the issue of climate change!

I have [ASD] and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And - given the right circumstances - being different is a superpower. Greta Thuneberg

Throughout the week, students participated in Autism Awareness activities linked to their Wellbeing Curriculum. In these activities, students looked at how people with Autism are impacted by their diagnosis. Students explored topics ranging from social communication and the ability to understand emotions, to the difficulty students with ASD may encounter at school, to the different ways in which those with Autism experience the world around them.

Also, to help spread awareness, students coloured in puzzle pieces on the theme of Autism Awareness and a wall of these puzzle pieces are on display in Skills for Learning. Overall the response was excellent! There were many amazing submissions so please do come by and have a look.

  • Autism Awareness Week 2019 | BIS HCMC
  • Autism Awareness Week 2019 | BIS HCMC
  • Autism Awareness Week 2019 | BIS HCMC

Finally, on Friday, we held a Sensory Overload VR Experience. In the undercroft, students had the opportunity to experience sensory overload, using virtual reality (Google Cardboard). Participation by our students of the British International School Ho Chi Minh City, as a whole, defied expectations, and we had to let the activity go on longer than anticipated.

Autism Awareness Week 2019 |  BIS HCMC

With all of the activities last week, the most rewarding part about Autism Awareness Week has been the impact it continues to have the week after. We are still collecting puzzle pieces, still hearing students and teachers talking about Autism Awareness and still getting excellent questions from students about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Students and teachers have genuinely engaged on this issue and it is impressive to see the level of understanding that they continue to demonstrate.

Thanks again to the Events Committee for helping out with the Sensory Overload VR Experience, to Marketing and Graphics for putting together materials for us, to the teachers for carrying out Autism Awareness activities in their forms, and to the efforts of the Learning Support Team (Mrs Cullen, Mrs Laddaran and Ms Viney) for putting this week’s activities together.

Mr Ian Young, Head of Learning Support

We encourage all children to develop to their full potential but recognise that some children may require additional support

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