'State must boost resources, training for autism'

The Israel Association for Autistic Children says gov't should develop a national program for neural development disorders.

Alut autistic graffiti art project 311 (photo credit: Alut)
Alut autistic graffiti art project 311
(photo credit: Alut)
Alut, the Israel Association for Autistic Children, called on the government to develop a national program to support those suffering from neural development disorder, given the growing evidence that the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better the child and family can function.
On Monday, Alut will hold its national fund-raising campaign, with tens of thousands of pupils visiting homes to collect contributions. One out of 100 children is diagnosed with the disorder, which involves impaired social interaction and communication and restricted and repetitive behavior.
A window of opportunity exists in early childhood during which intensive treatment can significantly advance the child; if the opportunity is missed, he will not progress as much. Due to the sharp increase in the number of diagnoses, specialized day-care centers, hostels, kindergartens, leisure services and schools, and training of professionals such as communications specialists and occupational therapists must proceed, Alut said.
According to a recent survey by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, there is an urgent need for increased services and professional training: At least 30 homes for adults with autism will be needed by 2015. Not much later, 100 sheltered homes are needed. Just one home with treatment and facilities for special needs costs around NIS 10 million.
Anat Cassuto-Shefi, the director of the volunteers’-based organization Alut, said, “the government can no longer say: ‘I didn’t know.’ With great frustration I stand opposite helpless parents who beg for treatments. There is a great shortage of trained manpower.”
Meanwhile, autistic artists and design students from the Tiltan School of Design and Visual Communications in Haifa have produced a “graffiti wall” at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on the subject of autism. The art was chosen as a bridge between those who can easily communicate and those – autism sufferers – who cannot.