Educators seek to expand conversation on opportunities for people with autism at global summit in Bali
Leaders in the autism education community from around the world are set to gather in Bali next week for the Global Autism Project’s inaugural Global Summit. Organizers say one major goal of this year’s summit is to expand the conversation about what’s possible for people with autism.
“We hope to spark more conversation around what’s possible for people with autism around the world when they have access to resources,” Molly Ola Pinney, CEO and Founder of the Global Autism Project, told Coconuts Bali via email.
The Global Summit is scheduled to take place from August 13 to 17 at the Kembali Innovation Hub in Kuta, making it the first gathering for all of the organization’s partners in 12 countries, which includes Indonesia, China and Ecuador. The three-day conference will include interactive workshops, presentations and also sessions to network and share ideas.
“The Global Summit’s content is curated to inspire innovation, encourage new ideas and establish action plans with permanent products,” the organization said in a press release.
Launched in 2003, the Global Autism Project trains teachers and educators on how to work with kids with autism with a focus on helping them reach their full potential.
Molly said that, even today, the biggest barrier remains the lack of understanding in local communities about what autism means.
“Getting local people and governments to come together and agree that kids with autism can learn and be productive members of society is something all of our partners struggle with,” Molly explained.
She added that, in Indonesia, the Project’s local partner has found that autism is often blamed on the parents. The persistent pressure for children to behave “normally” in society can cause parents to hide their children from their own community.
“Most people in Indonesia may not understand that autism is a neurological disorder and not a result of bad parenting,” Molly said.
There is not yet any definitive data on the number of people with autism in Indonesia. However, in 2018, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection estimated that there are around 2.4 million people with autism in the country.
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