Art for Autism

Master of ceremony Thulani Dube speaks to Musician Jarrad Ricketts, provincial legislature speaker Masizole Mnqasela, and Autism Western Cape managing director Mduduzi Dube.

Artists have rolled up their sleeves to raise awareness and funds for autism.

Special guests, musician Jarrad Ricketts, speaker in the provincial legislature Masizole Mnqasela, Autism Western Cape managing director Mduduzi Dube and artist Nicole Henn, from Plumstead, took matters into their own hands, when they participated in a six-minute paint-a-thon at 44 on Long Theatre, in Cape Town central business district (CBD), on Thursday April 1.

This was the organisation’s provincial Autism Month launch which coincided with their third annual “Artists on a Spectrum” which included the sale of valuable works of arts and paying tribute to those on the spectrum, especially those using their talents to make a living and being independent.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability.

It affects the way people see the world and respond to stimuli such as sound, light, touch, space, smell and or taste.

It is also known as a social communication disorder and affects four major areas of development – language and communication; social interaction; thinking and behaviour; and sensory processing.

The paint-challenge themed “amazing and unique” had special guests at the easel creating works of arts, which would be sold to raise funds for the organisation to build an early childhood centre and an adult training facility.

To help raise R5 million for a building as well as artist on a spectrum project funding, visit the exhibition at their office on the second floor of The Armoury in Buchanan Square, at160 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock.

Mr Dube said it was imperative that people with autism were “able to generate an income and are able to operate in society independently”.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the NGO to find unique ways to create a society that accepts and is inclusive of individuals diagnosed with autism.

Mr Dube said they have been hard at work educating and empowering individuals diagnosed with autism, their families and society.

They worked with the early childhood development (ECD) sector to help teachers and caregivers work with children on the spectrum.

He said there was a school shortage across the country, particularly for children on the spectrum and that if teachers were better educated, the pupils would have a better chance of living fulfilled lives.

Artist Nicole Henn, from Plumstead, was the main contributor to the “Artists on a Spectrum” exhibition.

He said they aimed to help teachers and other professionals by making available modules from the Skills Education Training Authority (SETA) and autism-specific continuing professional development (CPD) programme on their online platform.

“The online programme has helped them to open doors and reach more people,” he said.

Mr Dube said their needs varied from educational equipment and toys; to funding to assist with operational and running costs of the organisation; and projects.

Autism Connect Learning Centre director Nicolette Ripepi, from Muizenberg, Erika Special Education and Care Centre caregivers Ruwayda Meyer, from Rocklands, and Nazley Morta, from Westridge.

Nicolette Ripepi, director of Autism Connect Learning Centre in Strandfontein, said they had been working closely with Autism Western Cape.

“I’m excited about an NGO showcasing the amazing work of non-speaking autistic individuals,” she said.

Ms Ripepi said it was tough operating during the pandemic and that she had had to retrench several of her teachers.

Events

Strive Educare will be having a market day and Autism awareness walk at Westridge gardens on Saturday April 10 at 9am. Tickets cost R40 for adults and R20 for children. Funds raised are for the awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder. For more information visit www.striveeducare.co.za, call 021 023 1799 or WhatsApp text 081 094 8339.

Autism Connect Learning Centre will be having its annual fun day at Westridge Gardens on Saturday April 17, from 9am until 2pm. There will be sensory booths, face painting, balloon sculpting, jumping castles, boerewors rolls and beverages and an autism awareness station. For more information visit www.autismconnect.org.za or www.autismwesterncape.org.za.