Premier and Paget mark Autism Awareness Month

  • Raising awareness: David Burt, the Premier, meets children on the autism spectrum at Paget Primary School (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

    Raising awareness: David Burt, the Premier, meets children on the autism spectrum at Paget Primary School (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

Children celebrated Autism Awareness Month yesterday with a special breakfast attended by the Premier.

Pupils in the Paget Primary School autism spectrum disorder class acted as waiters to serve the food, which included eggs, bacon, waffles and fruit.

Pupils also carried out other roles, including maître d’ and the keynote speaker.

The event was attended by pupils on the autism spectrum disorder programme, Idonia Beckles, the principal at Paget Primary and teachers.

Solomon Belboda Raveneau, the keynote speaker, told the gathering: “Autism affects each child differently. We ask, can Bermuda continue to educate, promote and support all autistic people?”

The breakfast was also a show of appreciation to the Premier for his assistance to pupils who charted his life as part of Black History Month in February.

A short ceremony was also held for the pupils on the programme who worked on the school’s Black History Month display.

Mr Burt handed out awards and photographs to the pupils — Solomon Belboda Raveneau, 8, Exodus Somner, 11, Nathaniel McManus, 10, Dante Watson, 6, Rico Lambert, 10, and Arissa Wilson, 11.

Dorann Simons, education officer for student services, special education, supervises the ASD programmes across the island.

She said: “I love this programme as they do so many fantastic things for the children. It grows from year to year and the children are developed individually.

“Children with autism often don’t get the recognition that they deserve.

“With some people it is a mindset that those children should get more assistance than other children — people don’t take the time to see what they can do and accomplish.

“When people start treating children with autism the same as any other child then we will start to do a lot better.”

Freda Trimm, a special aid teacher, added: “The children are aware about what is needed in the community and what people need to know about students who have been diagnosed as being on the spectrum.

“When people are given labels the labels stick with them. April is Autism Awareness Month so we want to raise awareness of these issues.”

Mr Burt, who wore a tie decorated with jigsaw pieces, the international symbol for autism, said: “It is important to remember that when we look at public education in Bermuda that it covers all our students. We serve all levels of students and our differences must be celebrated.

“There are incredibly dedicated teachers and staff on the ASD programme here at Paget Primary School who make sure the students have the opportunity to excel. It is important that we look to unlock the potential of all children.

“It is impressive what they have done today; it is certainly appreciated by me.”

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Published Apr 23, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 23, 2019 at 7:17 am)

Premier and Paget mark Autism Awareness Month

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