Bar Refaeli with two blue candles in support of autism awareness.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
ALUT, the Israeli Society for Autistic Children in collaboration with the Association for Children at Risk (ACR) is to hold its annual donation day on Sunday.
Thousands of children are planning to knock on doors throughout the country, asking for contributions for the two organizations. In addition, ALUT is to launch an informational campaign calling on the public to light two blue candles during Hanukka for children with autism.
The campaign aims to raise awareness among the public that children with autism spectrum disorders are often lonely and want to develop friendships though they do not always know how to form social connections.
Leading Israeli figures, including supermodel Bar Refaeli alongside MKs and local celebrities signed on to the campaign to help raise awareness.
In recent years autistic children have been increasingly integrating into society through special kindergartens and schools, activities in the Tzofim (Scouts) or even by joining the workforce. Through these activities children are able to meet people without disabilities.
Yet, according to ALUT, despite this there is no real interaction – no one comes to visit, the phone does not ring, no one invites the children for a game or to go to the beach or to a movie.
The candles are meant to serve as a signal to children with autism that they are not alone.
Furthermore, according to the organization there is a serious lack of schools and frameworks for the increasing demand of autistic children and their families.
Findings indicate that one out of every 100 children in Israel is born with autism.
“The significant increase in the diagnosis of children with autism has brought a demand for all types of frameworks, which dramatically exceeds their supply,” said Einat Cassuto- Shefi, director-general of ALUT.
“There is currently a shortage of slots in rehabilitative daycare centers, lack of assistants, lack of schools, lack of jobs and houses for life, and some children are prevented from receiving early health care treatment, a lack of hospital beds for autistic children in psychiatric hospitals and more,” she said.
According to ALUT, studies have shown that early preventative treatment as soon as children are diagnosed is crucial to the healthy development of young toddlers. Yet despite this, every year dozens of children are left without treatment or slots in rehabilitative schools and “miss out” on the significant window of opportunity for rehabilitation at an early age.
“The donations help ALUT continue to develop services and provide access to services for every family and child,” said Cassuto-Shefi.
Attorney Tzipi Nagel-Edelstein, CEO of the Association for Children at Risk said: “The association has initiated legislative measures to protect the rights of children and assist them in realizing their existing rights. There is an acute problem in the transition between kindergarten and school-age children, at which point there is a reduced entitlements basket, which children and families also find difficult to attain.”
According to the organization’s website, ACR is the largest organization in Israel to provide the therapeutic basket to children diagnosed with autism who attend special education preschools. In recent years the association has created national models for educational and therapeutic programs to meet the diverse needs of autistic children and their families.
Donations to ALUT can be made on the website or by phone at 1-800-855-558.