World Autism Awareness Day
On 2 April, World Autism Awareness Day, Ljubljana joined the international initiative »Light it up Blue« and lit up the Ljubljana Castle blue.
In 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution declaring 2 April World Autism Awareness Day. Since the very beginning Ljubljana is marking this day aimed at raising awareness on autism and stressing the importance of early diagnosis of autism as well as timely and appropriate assistance to the individual.
In Slovenia there are approximately 20,000 people with autism or disorders on the autistic spectrum, and each year 200 children are born with this disorder in our country.
Kindergarten for autistic children
Starting next month, the new unit of the Pedenjped Kindergarten in Kašelj is the first one in Slovenia to offer a special programme for children with autism within the public kindergarten network. With it we are contributing to the professional development of specialised education and learning methods within the national curriculum as well as to the promotion of a positive attitude and the provision of adequate conditions for vulnerable groups of children. Namely, kindergarten enrolment is for many parents the first time they are faced with the fact that their child is autistic.
Public kindergartens for children with special needs, including children with autism, offer two different programmes – development and regular departments facilitating integration with additional professional assistance, but this is not always optimal for autistic children. Many times it seems to be conceived too broadly without providing specific conditions which children with autism need for optimal progress. That is why kindergartens in Ljubljana want to give the parents of autistic children the opportunity and possibility to enrol their preschool children in a specialised preschool department offering a high-quality early intervention programme for children with autism. The aim of the programme is for children to develop a positive self-image, to successfully participate in and carry out kindergarten activities, and to develop strategies and skills needed for successful integration into the neurotypical world of their peers – especially with regard to the subsequent entry into the regular primary school programme.
Considering the high share of people with autism we believe a different conceptual basis for working with autistic children and people in the sense of social integration into society is needed; with the new department we are introducing a new concept and are again breaking ground in a crucial area of organising different education for them.