For Derek Oliver and others living with Autism, each day presents its own challenges.
Monday (2 April) marked World Autism Awareness Day.
It aims to highlight the issues people living with autism face.
For 17 years Mr. Oliver didn’t know he had a mental condition.
“I didn’t know I was autistic till I was 17, so my whole young life I was just the weird kid. I was the really odd kid over in the corner who was looking at his own hands and lining up trains and making sure they were all just exactly in a row,” said Mr. Oliver.
Now Mr. Oliver serves as a senior behaviour technician at Cayman ABA, where he works with autistic children.
“Figure out what it means for you. Figure out what, I don’t wanna say holds you back but where you have to do things differently and then do those things differently and then embrace the things that don’t really hold you back, embrace the things that make you extra,” said Mr. Oliver.
Clinical Director of Cayman ABA, Anoush Dadian said Cayman is making positive strides in regards to autism.
“Awareness is definitely on the rise, it’s coming about slowly… I’ve seen families are much more ready to pick out signs that they’re noticing in their developing children and also I think the conversation is becoming more comfortable in Cayman,” said Ms. Dadian.
It is not known the exact number of children in Cayman with Autism.
“In the US the prevalence in 2014 was 1 in 68 children and if we look in Cayman, there’s about 3000 school age children give or take so based on that percentage were looking at around 60 to 100 children might be diagnosed or eligible for a diagnosis of autism,” said Ms. Dadian.
Ms. Dadian said people should look at autism with an open mind.
“It’s trying to label autism as one certain thing, the misconception being that it is easy to have a diagnosis and a label,” said Ms. Dadian.
As for Mr. Oliver, he said he’s happy with who he is.
“It’s very much a part of my person, a part of my personality and I wouldn’t change having autism for anything,” said Mr. Oliver.
If you are interested in taking part in spreading awareness the Light House school will be holding an Autism Awareness walk 14 April.