April is Autism Awareness month and that is being marked in Gibraltar in a number of ways. The aim is not only to raise awareness but also to provide support to families of people who are on the autism spectrum.
Firstly, from last Friday, 30 March, to World Autism Day on Monday 2 April, Gibraltar's iconic Moorish Castle was lit with the colourful puzzle piece which is the international symbol for autism.
The Ministry of Equality, which works on strategies to assist people with autism and other learning disabilities throughout the year, has also organised a series of Understanding Autism lectures to help parents with autistic children, beginning with an information seminar on managing behaviour.
As part of the Ministry's 'Equality Means Business' strategy, it has been developing closer collaboration with Leisure Cinemas, who already provide inclusive equipment for the hearing and visually impaired. They have now launched a programme of sensory screenings to accommodate people on the autism spectrum.
Gibraltar's Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, said this week that she was delighted with progress regarding equality for disabled people, including those with autism.
“I am very fortunate to work closely with a team of professionals who are committed to developing policies and strategies to promote inclusion of people with disabilities. In addition, and in large measure as a result of our awareness-raising campaigns and the range of information training that we are providing, these developments are being embraced by the private sector. A number of local organisations and businesses already stand out for their commitment to being progressive and being inclusive towards people with disabilities, whether learning disabilities or physical,” she said.