How to help

F.A.A. was founded by parents of children with ASD and so far is operating mostly on volunteers. We desperately need more volunteers to be able to offer more support to those living/working with autism within our community. The help F.A.A. is requesting ranges from feedback from individuals with autism and parents about their needs, to professionals willing to contribute in improving service and treatment related to autism in Aruba.

F.A.A. likes to point out that although it is important for parents to become actively involved, sometimes the personal situation just takes up so much energy that even if we want to we can not look further than our own situation. Therefore we also need other people from within our community to help. Whether you are a parent, professional, student, an individual that has an interest in autism and you are willing and able to dedicate time to the cause we could use help in the following areas:

  • Parent support

Parent support meetings are intended for parents and family members of individuals with autism with the purpose of exchanging experiences, emotions, needs, information, questions, successes, etc. in an informal setting. While professional services currently are not sufficient and available to all, parents carry a heavy load. Sometimes parents are so caught up dealing with day to day life that they can’t look beyond their own situation and might think they are the only ones experiencing this. It is important parents share emotions and experiences with each other and to know they are not alone. Parents can understand from each other what they are going through and might even be able to offer each other a tip or solution. Exchanging information and experiences can help other parents overcome certain problems, support them while they go through difficult times and give hope for improvement.

During some of the parent support meetings F.A.A. would like to present topics of interest related to autism. For this we need volunteers, preferably parents who can indicate what is needed. Organizational and communication skills are helpful but most important is willingness and dedication.

Advocacy

Little to no expenses are covered for autism related services. This means that some children for whom autism related services are unaffordable are lacking necessary treatment and therapy. This can worsen symptoms and behavior and will cause the individual at some point in life to derail.  Besides the severe consequences for the quality of life of the individual with autism and their family, the community in general will have to bear the results.

It is important we convince care providers with research and investigative results the benefit and need to cover certain autism related therapy and treatment. Parents need to voice their needs in order for autism related services to improve and available to all who need it.

Volunteers need to have a heart for the cause, see the need for advocacy, have good communication and negotiation skills. Some medical and juridical knowledge is desired but most of all willingness, time and dedication is needed.

  • Website

F.A.A. launched this website in 2008. This is an important way of informing the public about autism in general and autism in Aruba. Much information is already available online but none specifically about living in Aruba with autism. The founders of F.A.A. learned by experience that there’s a need for local information about autism but also where to go to get help and guidance? So many questions arise when you first deal with autism, be it on personal of professional grounds. This website is a beginning to foresee in that need, but F.A.A. is aware the information needs to be broadened, updated, tailored, etc. in serving the need of those living and/or working with autism in Aruba. We live in a multicultural society which means the information should be available at least in the Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish language.

A website continuously needs to be updated with news about scientific development, research results, treatments, local and international activities, etc. All of this requires time for which we need volunteers. Computer experience is desired, knowledge about autism is handy but not necessary. The work can easily be divided between various volunteers and time can be dedicated flexibly, if desired from the private environment.

  • Newspaper articles

Another way of informing the public about different aspects of autism is through the media. The newspaper is read daily by many people and therefore a very effective way to get information to the public. F.A.A. would like to publish informative articles about different aspects of autism on a regular basis. Articles with practical information for those living/working with autism. F.A.A. has plenty of informational resources but the information needs to be translated and the foundation would like to keep a continuous flow of information through short weekly publications.

Volunteers need to have some writing skills in Papiamento and Dutch. Knowledge about autism is not necessary but desired and could be acquired. The work can be done from the volunteer’s private environment and would require an estimated two hours a week.