Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shining a Light

I've been volunteering for Autism South Africa since I visited their offices a few months ago.  Unfortunately, the financial difficulties the organization was experiencing then have become even more pronounced.  There is no government support.  Donations are dwindling.  Existing sources of revenue are drying up.   

There is the great dilemma- should you continue to push for awareness in a country where autism is under-diagnosed and misunderstood, knowing that it is already impossible to provide adequate assistance?

The one thing they desperately need- more money- I'm unable to bring.  I couldn't help but feel helpless.

And yet that morning...

  • In walked a student from the local university looking for further information about autism spectrum disorders.
  • An educator is travelling around the country providing workshops for parents, therapists and teachers.
  • A therapist stopped by and asked to be added to the mailing list for more information about autism workshops.
  • The mother of a newly diagnosed child was able to walk in and collect information about autism in her own language, and given direction about the next steps.
  • Another concerned parent could call in and schedule an appointment for a full assessment free of charge.

The staff continue to work on ways to help everyone affected by autism in South Africa has access to the support and services they need, regardless of the current situation.

Following a phone call in which a father asked, "Is there any hope?" following the recent diagnosis of his child, the member of staff who took the call turned to me and said he wasn't sure how to respond to that question.  He asked me how I would have replied.

There is always hope.

When there is nothing left to give, hope is the one thing you can give.  We hopeful parents know that.  A cause is never hopeless as long as there are people trying to find it.  I don't feel helpless any more.  I described my first visit to the office as a flood, but now I know better.  It is a lighthouse.  In these dark times, Autism South Africa is still shining a light.  Now all that remains is to make that beacon brighter.

Spectrummy Mummy writes about the family who light up her life on her blogFacebook and Twitter.


  1. you always continue to amaze me :) Those connections - so important. And remember - they tell two friends, and they tell two friends...and slowly people begin to understand. And work together.

  2. So proud of you!! Keep doing what you're doing - you may only be one person, but you just may be the one person a parent of a child with Autism needs to keep going and to seek out the information they so desperately will need. You may be the spark needed to create the inferno!! Keep the faith, you're doing great!!!

  3. This is a great post. The most important thing we can do is support one another. That's what gives us hope and strength to progress through life while being affected by an ASD. I couldn't imagine how difficult things would be if I didn't have a support network.

  4. Well said!
    "Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
    Margaret Meade