Nosh for Josh creates awareness around autism

Ward 50 councillor Angus Mckenzie addresses the community during a roadshow by NPO Nosh for Josh, which raises awareness about autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was put in the spotlight when NPO Nosh for Josh brought their awareness campaign to the Multipurpose Centre in Jakkelsvlei Avenue, Bonteheuwel, on Tuesday January 20.

ASD is present from early childhood.

Autistic children have difficulty communicating, forming relationships, using language and understanding abstract concepts.

Nosh for Josh focuses on creating awareness about autism and helping those affected by it.

It was founded by Sandy Pekeur-Sandy whose son Joshua, 10, who was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old.

Josh recently underwent a stem cell operation in India to treat his autism disorder.

Gabriela Rishka Wiener, spokeswoman for Josh’s family, said during the roadshow they want to inform people what signs and symptoms to look out for and how to cope with an autistic child.

They have already visited Khayelitsha, Malmesbury, Ashton, and Montague to spread awareness about autism.

Ms Wiener said they hope to stop parents from being ashamed of their children who have physical and mental disorders.

“Some children are labelled or shamed in the community and parents don’t want to admit that there is something wrong with their child. Some marriages break up because either party can’t handle it and some cultures believe that they have done something to cause it,” she said.

She said that parents need to educate themselves so that they are able to understand the disorder and help their children.

Ms Wiener said the use of visuals is important when teaching an autistic child.

For example, when potty-training a child parents need to put up pictures of a toilet around the house with arrows pointing to its location.”Sometimes it is tough on their parents and teachers because you must have a lot of patience but I believe that God has given it to some because they have the strength to handle it,” she said.

Also at the meeting was Dr Shaun Pekeur who said that children who suffer from autism are at least five years behind their actual age in terms of development.

He said the main signs to look out for are quiet children; children who cover their ears when they hear loud noises; and children who can’t stand light and always switch the lights off.

“We call them ‘die hemel kinders’ because some of them are always looking up to heaven. “Parents must remember that they have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.

Dr Pekeur also said parents should not worry about what other people think but should focus on their children.

“Get educated about autism. The more you read the more you will increase your knowledge and help your children develop,” he said.

Ward 50 councillor Angus Mckenzie also addressed the community. He was happy that Nosh for Josh had brought the campaign to Bonteheuwel.

He said parents need to swallow their pride and get help for their children.

“The sooner parents get help for their children the better for everyone. This is the start of a great partnership that will hopefully change Bonteheuwel. We need to take away the shame and the embarrassment that we have,” he said.