Bid to support children with intellectual disabilities



MASERU – The Intellectual Disability Association of Lesotho (IDAL) has embarked on a programme to equip young people with intellectual disabilities, including those with autism, with different life skills to help them realise their full potential. This is meant to address challenging behaviour patterns experienced by people with intellectual disabilities and to equip them with skills that will enable them to address the challenges they may face accordingly, which often prevent them from reaching their full potential.

IDAL programmes coordinator, ’Mafumane Makhele, in an interview said their efforts are focused on raising awareness amongst those who are not on the autistic spectrum disorder so that they do not see autistic people as requiring special treatment, but as unique individuals.

She further noted that in being overprotective, parents usually hide their children with disabilities at home to protect them from possible discrimination, leading to the children becoming dependent on other people thus failing to reach their full potential.

“It is our belief that, including a child with a disability in society begins with access to everyday experiences in the home setting. Therefore, partnering with parents and policy makers is essential for effective and efficient delivery of quality education among others for children with disabilities,” Makhele explained.

She said they will be commemorating autism pride day this week on Sunday June 25, as a way of shifting attitudes towards acceptance that autism is a difference rather than a sickness.

The day is usually commemorated annually on June 18 with a variety of events to recognize the importance of pride for autistic people, and bring a positive change in the world.

She said on this day, they will be doing activities by themselves, to show the world that they are capable of doing anything, and that their disability is not inhibitive. “The day will start with a fun walk, and will be marked by tree planting and introduction of different activities that will help young people with intellectual disabilities and autism to generate income for their basic needs,” she added.

IDAL represents and protects the rights of severely disabled children and people of all ages with intellectual disabilities and autism, through peer-to-peer mentoring, community based empowerment and psychosocial support. In Lesotho, education for children with autism remains unclear with a limitation of schools catering for their special needs. Besides that, the government does not offer full support to certain schools catering for these children.

With the partnership of Rise, a non-profit organization which pledged to design and build a centre with the support from Standard Lesotho bank, IDAL has secured land at Ha Buasono, in Berea, to build a centre which is aimed to equip young people with intellectual disabilities with different life skills.

Over the past 31 years, the association has assisted over 9 500 families through community based empowerment and psychosocial support.

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