- A Cape Flats mom is on a mission to spread awareness about children with disabilities.
- Carmen Snyders, the mother of a 7-year old son living with autism, arranged a party to mark the start of Autism Month.
- More than 200 disabled children attended it.
More than two hundred disabled children from across the Cape Flats attended a party at Stratford Primary School in Eerste River over the weekend to kickstart Autism month.
News24 previously reported that Carmen Snyders from Eerste River, a mother of a 7-year-old autistic child, decided to host the party to create awareness about autism and children with disabilities.
Her son Carter was diagnosed with autism four years ago.
“What started out as just an idea, blossomed into probably one the best days of my life. The pure excitement and happiness from these kids was just the cherry on top,” Snyders said.
“I put out a call on social media for donations and many people opened their hearts and donated. We managed to get a donor who had offered to purchase coffees, teas, sugar, for the parents who accompanied their kids as well,” Snyders added.
She used her own funds for the food, party bags, balloons, and toys.
And even though the DJ cancelled at the eleventh hour, they still managed to have fun.
“I was extremely disappointed, but luckily a resident DJ pulled through and offered to play the jams for kiddies. That really set the tone for them as many of them let loose when the music started playing,” she added.
Officials from the Western Cape government participated and a speech therapist was present.
Members of the Eerste River Community Policing Forum and local police also pitched in with patrols to ensure that everyone was safe.
“Many of the parents are not clued up on how to handle kids with disabilities, so having the different officials grace us with their presence was amazing. I think we all walked away with a lot more knowledge and empathy for our kids,” Snyders added.
“We salute them and stand in solidarity that kids with disabilities matter,” an emotional Snyders said.
She said she told her husband that their monthly budget would have to be adjusted because she plans to invest a lot of her time and money towards efforts to spread autism awareness.
She is already planning to host the next awareness event.
Professor Kirsty Donald from Red Cross Children’s Hospital told News24 that autism spectrum disorder is a behaviourally defined developmental condition that is characterised by challenges in two main areas, mainly, social communication and repetitive behaviour and restricted interests.
“I think, in general, for children with developmental conditions, if they don’t look like they have a visible medical problem, it then remains difficult for people to understand the underlying drivers of challenging behaviours that children with autism spectrum disorders might have.
Donald said more needed to be do ne to improve the general understanding of autism spectrum disorders.
Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said that for the 2022/23 financial year, R176 million has been budgeted for developmental social welfare services for people with disabilities, their families and for caregivers.
“The department currently funds 220 non-profit organisations that render services to persons with disabilities. We are also providing funding to 41 residential care facilities that offer specialised care options for 1 674 people with disabilities,” Fernandez added.