It’s World Autism Awareness Day.
In recognition of the day, The Moose spoke to individuals in the valley who work with children that have autism.
And while they say the day is great for raising awareness, there are many things people can do the other 364 days of the year.
Sharon Mason works with children who have autism in Hazelton and surrounding areas as part of the Northwest Supported Child Development Program.
She says people need to stop looking at autism as some sort of negative.
“Parents mourn their children when they’re born … these kids aren’t broke, they just learn in different ways,” Mason says.
She adds that it’s important to realize kids with autism are just regular children that process information a little differently.
“It’s not just one day, its 24/7 for their whole life,” she says, adding that it’s people without autism who can learn from those that have it.
“They’re the experts, those children are the experts to teach us — we just need to stop and listen.”
Marina Robb works with the same organization as Mason, providing support to autistic children in the Smithers and Houston areas.
She echoes Mason, saying that, above all, we need to look at kids as unique, not just an average of statistics.
“Looking at kids as individuals is really what I think is the most important … to create a learning environment or a living environment that is meaningful to them,” she says.
Robb and Mason both agree that it’s important to realize all children, autistic or not, learn differently and that it would be beneficial to structure education with this flexibility in mind.