HCMC – More than 350 children with autism spectrum disorder along with their parents and teachers took part in an exciting event specially organized by the Vietnam Autism Network (VAN), the Saigon Children’s Charity (saigonchildren) and the Department of Culture and Sports of HCMC at the Ho Xuan Huong Stadium in District 3, HCMC, on November 7 to celebrate Vietnamese Teachers’ Day, which is commemorated on November 20.
The Sports and Teacher Appreciation Day was not only meaningful to the kids as they could connect with other friends and develop their social skills, but also recognize the importance of teachers, practitioners and specialists in the autism supporting community.
At the event, the autistic children participated in games that aimed to help them develop their senses and skills, such as putting balls in a hole, bead threading and decorating strawberries. Sports such as baseball, hockey, soccer and broad jumping also attracted a lot of participation.
Before that, on the morning of November 6, a swimming tournament for autistic children, as part of this event, was held at the Yet Kieu swimming pool in District 1.
The event recognized the dedication and hard work of many practitioners in helping children in the spectrum reach their potential. Over 50 appreciation gifts were given on stage to teachers, professionals and doctors working with kids with autism.
“Teaching can be hard work, especially when children face challenges such as autism and developmental delays, but through your hard work, you create moments of magic where these wonderful children can develop and learn. You will help the children speak their first words, communicate their feelings and begin to look after themselves in small and important ways,” Damien Roberts, saigonchildren’s executive director, said, lauding the teachers and practitioners.
Pham Thi Kim Tam, president of VAN, stated, “VAN organizes this event for children with autism every year, and the event this year takes place in November to appreciate the teachers and practitioners in this field. We understand that every autistic child’s journey does not only involve parents and grandparents, but also the companionship of many doctors, professionals and teachers.”
“Through this event, we also hope that children with autism spectrum disorder will have more playgrounds designed for them and the society will understand and sympathize more with the diverse autistic community,” she added.
Like other events co-organized by VAN and saigonchildren, the Sports Day this year was specially tailored for autistic children with a particular “social story” designed by the organizers and sent to the family in advance to help parents explain the event and prepare their children mentally at home.
A social story is a narrative to illustrate certain situations and problems and how people deal with them. They help children with autism understand social norms and learn how to communicate with others appropriately.
In addition, the event provided a “quiet room”, which was a separate area with beanbags and tents so that children could relax and enjoy their time in silence if they felt too overwhelmed by what was going on on stage.
The VAN is a network for autistic people, their parents, families as well as interested organizations and individuals. VAN has various main activities including capacity building for parents with autistic children and for autistic people, communication to change public awareness about autism, advocacy for autistic people and collaboration for implementing programs, activities and projects that bring benefits to the autism community.