The founder of Nehemiah Autism Center, Rahel Abayneh, has expressed concern regarding the reopening of schools and what new measures might mean for children living with Autism. Indeed, given the difficulties of integrating children with Autism into normal life and the constant recalibrating and reinforcement that requires, the question of whether school teachers can keep up with the new measures for all students, let alone those with developmental challenges is one that needs to be answered.
As of the present time, however, the Ministry of Education has not revealed any plans or guidelines to tackle this issue. Perhaps more concerning is the closure of organizations like Nehemiah Autism Center due to the pandemic.
According to Rahel, her organization is on the brink of permanent closure due to a lack of budget. Such an occurrence is problematic considering that the center has more than 600 children waiting to join the centre.
This problem is further compounded by the negligent attitude government officials have towards the conditions. Rahel affirms that in her interactions with government officers from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, there was a lack of differentiation between Down Syndrome and Autism.
Rahel’s call for more awareness and policy that takes into account those living with Autism echoes those of experts during this year’s World Mental Health Day, which was celebrated on October 10th. The day was characterized by countless calls for more awareness about mental health especially considering the negative effects that the pandemic has had on everything from autism to substance abuse.