Autism Awareness Campaign in Sri Lanka (Autism Sri Lanka)

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Ivan, Charika and Charin Corea in Sri Lanka

Autism Awareness Ribbons presented to Freddie Flintoff and Mahela Jayawardene at Lords

Sri Lanka's test captain Mahela Jayawardene

Autism Awareness Ribbons were presented to the England Captain Freddie Flintoff and Sri Lanka's captain Mahela Jayawardene during the First Test at Lords Cricket Grounds in St.John's Wood, London. The autism ribbons were handed over at Lords by Ivan Corea, founder of the Autism Awareness Campaign UK and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's captain, Mahela Jayawardene, (Man of the Match ) scored a memorable century at Lords on Sunday bringing dignity back to the Sri Lankan side. Autism ribbons were also handed over to distinguished English cricketing personalities Jonathan Agnew and Henry Bloefeld who are members of BBC Radio 4's 'Test Match Special' commentary team. Writing to both Freddie Flintoff and Mahela Jayawardene, Ivan Corea urged the cricketing community to 'speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.' Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects 535,000 people in the United Kingdom and 38,000 people with autism in Sri Lanka. Many struggle without access to public services in education, health, specialist speech therapy and respite care.

There are only two schools who can offer only a few places for children with autism in Sri Lanka. The vast majority have no access to education many are kept at home due to reasons of culture.

Ivan Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign has commended the efforts of the 'king of Baila' the London based Sri Lankan superstar, Desmond de Silva who hopes to embark upon a massive fund raising effort to build the first school for autism in Colombo. Desmond de Silva in his first concert for Autism Sri Lanka performed to a packed centre in Sydney Australia earlier this year. He plans to launch a roadshow covering several countries in his efforts to reach out to children with autism in Sri Lanka and raise funds for the new school.

Desmond de Silva's Concert for Autism Sri Lanka in Sydney Australia

Sri Lankan Superstar Desmond de Silva

Once again, Sri Lankan superstar Desmond de Silva has pioneered the way by being the first Sri Lankan musician to headline the first ever Autism Concert in Sydney, Australia in aid of autistic children on the island of Sri Lanka. The concert is being held in 2006 which is International Asperger's Year.

'Desmond has a heart of gold, he is reaching out to people with autism and the Autism Awareness Campaign Sri Lanka are grateful to the 'King of Baila' for raising awareness about the condition. Desmond de Silva is making a difference,' said Ivan Corea who initiated the campaign in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2003.

Desmond de Silva is one of Sri Lanka's leading musicians. He has enthralled audiences all over the world. His CDs have sold millions all over the globe.Desmond was touched to hear about the plight of 38,000 autistic children in Sri Lanka - only a handful are being helped in schools and parents, carers and autists have to struggle to access public services in health, education specialist speech therapy and respite care on the island.

Other leading Sri Lankan musicians have come forward to support the Autism Awareness Campaign including Sunil Perera and the Gypsies, Mignonne Fernando of 'The Jetliners' fame and Nimal Mendis the distinguished singer/songwriter.

Last year Ivan Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign met with His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse when he was Prime Minister. Mr. Corea spoke to H.E.Mahinda Rajapakse who was presented with an Autism Awareness Ribbon at the Sri Lanka High Commission in London.

President Rajapakse recently speaking in Colombo said: "I want the fruits of our work for children to spread evenly throughout the country from Point Pedro to Dondra Head and Colombo to Batticaloa encompassing the entire land.

"There is one dream that drives me, that is to see all children be they Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and all others live as brothers and sisters of a single mother in the new Sri Lanka that we shall build," President Rajapakse said.

Ivan Corea urged the President to look into the crying needs of the 38,000 autistic children in Sri Lanka. Many are kept at home due to culture. Autism is also confused with mental illness. Life is a struggle for parents, carers and autists in Sri Lanka. Many remain undiagnosed. Teachers and medical professionals need training on autism and Asperger's Syndrome.Mr.Corea urged 'Equality for All' including children with special educational needs in Sri Lanka.

Desmond de Silva will headline the first ever Autism Concert for Sri Lanka in Sydney Australia on the 31st of March. Desmond de Silva will be backed by the highly acclaimed Raddy Ferreira Orchestra known in Australia as one of the finest, swingiest and most versatile dance orchestras. The exclusive dinner will be held on the 31st of March 2006 at Oatlands House, 42 Bettington Av. Oatlands 2117. The Oatlands House Functions Centre is situated in Sydney's Hills and Hawkesbury region -located in the north west of Greater Sydney.

Desmond de Silva created history by being the first ever Sri Lankan musician to appeal on behalf of people with autism in Sri Lanka at a concert held at the BMICH in Colombo.

De Silva received a standing ovation when he told the audience of thousands at the BMICH: 'Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder affecting so many around the world. Autism is not mental illness, these children and adults think differently. Albert Einstein they say was autistic. How many in the audience know that there are 38,000 autistic people in Sri Lanka? So we as entertainers, urge you all to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.Lets spread awareness of autism, particularly when numbers of autistic children are rising and we urge our government to also provide public services ; who knows we may even produce Albert Einsteins if we provide education, health, specialist speech therapy for autistic children in our lovely island....' said De Silva.

Sri Lankan entertainers are scheduled to join the campaign and support the message that people with autism in Sri Lanka need help. The Autism Awareness Campaign Sri Lanka have urged western philanthropists and NGOs to come to Sri Lanka and build Autism Units and equip them with badly needed sensory rooms and other equipment in order to help children with autism - not just in Colombo but all over the island and work with the Ministry of Education to reach out to children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.. Teachers also need training in educational strategies - but funding is needed.

For further details of the Desmond de Silva Concert for Autism, held in Sydney, Australia, please access the website:

Ozlanka -

Nimal Mendis
The composer of Master Sir

Sunil Perera & The Gypsies

Autism Awareness Campaign urges Bill Clinton to help the Disability Community

Former US President Bill Clinton in Colombo

The United Nations Envoy, former US President Bill Clinton visited Sri Lanka on May 27 - 28th. The Autism Awareness Campaign Sri Lanka urged President Clinton to reach out to the disability community. The tsunami has led to many more people suffering a range of disabilities, children still suffer from mental trauma.
Ivan Corea said: 'A crying need for Sri Lanka are special schools (equipped with sensory rooms) to be set up in the tsunami hit areas as well as other parts of the country to cater for the rising numbers of children with special educational needs including autism spectrum disorder.'

Autism Awareness Campaign meets Mahinda Rajapakse

The President of Sri Lanka

Ivan Corea of the Autism Awareness Campaign met the His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse in London and presented him with an Autism Awareness Ribbon. He urged the Prime Minister to do more for all people with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome in Sri Lanka.

Ivan Corea with cricket superstar Brian Lara

West Indies cricket star Brian Lara  joined a host of world cricketers in a charity played in Melbourne Australia to raise funds for the countries affected by the tsunami disaster. Ivan Corea met with Brian Lara last year.
The Sri Lanka Cricket Board will also raise money for the tsunami disaster appeal with the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Disability News Item - December 2004
Colombo Page

Social Welfare Ministry Secretary Seetha Rajapaksa said that although legislation has been passed to give equal opportunity to disabled persons, they yet do not receive that equal treatment and pointed out that they are not even accommodated under the three per cent employment opportunities reserved for them under the law.

The statistics collected by the Ministry has shown that the percentage of disabled persons in Sri Lanka was between six to eight per cent of the total population. goto Top

The Autism Awareness Campaign in Sri Lanka
A massive Autism Awareness Campaign was launched in Colombo, Sri Lanka by parents and carers Ivan and Charika Corea.
According to international experts, there are 30,000 autistic people in the island of Sri Lanka, however there is no data collection so the figure could be much higher.
Autism/pervasive developmental disorder refers to a whole group of disorders characterised by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including socialisation and communication.

Symptoms of PDD include severe communication problems such as understanding language; difficulty to relating to people, objects and events, unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings and repetitive body movements or patterns.

Autism, the experts suggest, is a brain disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and communication skills and limited activities and interests is the most characteristic and best studied PDD.

Other types of PDD are Asperger's syndrome, Rett's Syndrome,childhood disintegrative disorders and others.

Autism is a neuro- developmental  disorder - all of us have neurones in our brains to process thought,they need to fire in the correct order - in the brains of an autistic child or adult they don't fire at all or they just misfire.
That is why you cannot give an autistic child complex commands.Everything has to be kept well and truly simple.
As in other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, parents, carers and autists are struggling to access public services in health, education, specialist speech therapy and respite care in Sri Lanka.
What has happened in the past is that these children and adults have either been institutionalised or they have been kept at home. The problem is understanding.
Parents and carers have no real information, they don't know their rights, there is no real help or support with only one or two schools who cater to children with special educational needs.
We commend Chitra Lane School in Colombo who are helping autistic children - they have some expertise where autism is concerned including access to speech therapy. The Sri Lankan Government needs to replicate the Chitra Lane School experience, right across the island.
Autism is a time bomb waiting to happen in Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and his Government must take action in order to help and support the Autistic Community in Sri Lanka.
Autism is on the increase - even in the island of Sri Lanka. If there is a massive increase in numbers of autistic children will the the government be ready to cope with such an increase?Would service providers be  able to provide public services?



The dynamic Otara Chandiram

Ivan and Charika Corea appraised many people in Sri Lanka about the crying needs of the Autistic Community from Ministers of the Sri Lankan Government, parliamentarians of all parties at Kotte, influential businessmen and women including the dynamic Managing-Director of Odels - Mrs. Otara Chandiram. The Odel Foundation are backing the Chitra Lane School who enrol autistic children and children with special educational needs. The Chitra Lane School is one of only a handful of schools who deal with autistic children in the whole of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka batting Superstar Sanath Jayasuriya

Autism Awareness ribbons were also presented to Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's leading batsman at Lords Cricket Grounds in London. Sanath was informed about the massive Autism Awareness Campaign and he has met with Ivan, Charika and Charin Corea on several occasions in London and in Essex.

One of Sri Lanka's leading media personalities, Dr. Vijaya Corea former Director-General of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation also supports the Autism Awareness Campaign.
On a recent visit to London, Dr. Vijaya Corea learnt about autism and how this condition affects families.

Sri Lanka Parliament in Sri Jayewardenapura, Kotte

We welcome the new Disability Legislation in Sri Lanka and the new Disability Policies launched by the Government. We were also delighted to hear the wonderful debate in parliament in Kotte conducted by members of parliament of all parties who pledged their support to all people with disabilities.
We urge parliamentarians in Kotte to debate the whole issue of Autism and the crying needs of the Autistic Community in Sri Lanka - it is now a very serious health and education issue facing the nation. 

President of Sri Lanka H.E.Mahinda Rajapakse

Autism Awareness Ribbon

Our recommendations to  the Government of Sri Lanka:

To set up and fund an AUTISM FOUNDATION in Colombo - which will give help and support to parents, carers and autists in Sri Lanka; undertake research into the causes of autism in Sri Lanka; help with the dissemination of information on Autism and Asperger's Syndrome in English, Sinhala and Tamil; provide advocacy services for parents, carers and autists.
To launch a data collection project right across the island.
To set up an AUTISM COMMITTEE consisting of health, education, social services professionals, the voluntary sector/charities/NGOs - joint working and joined up thinking is absolutely crucial for all autistic people, they can also look at good practice and make recommendations.
To introduce tough new legislation in parliament similar to the Disabilities Discrimination Act in the United Kingdom to protect the rights of all autistic people in Sri Lanka; introduce new employment laws giving access to the world of work.
Introduce a special examination and a special qualificiation for autistic people who may or may not be entered for GCEs, A levels ; introduce special assessments for autistic children who are in mainstream schools.
Open more Special Schools wherever the need arises.
Encourage inclusion in mainstream schools - both in the Government Sector and in private schools.
Introduce compulsory disability training for all school principals and staff.
Introduce disability awareness - including autism to all mainstream school children.
Introduce disability units including a study on autism in all teacher training courses including teacher training degree courses in universities.
Appoint a Disabilities Minister who will also look at the needs of autistic children and adults across the Disability Spectrum.
Launch an Autism Awareness Week in Sri Lanka.
We recommend that the Ministers of Health and Education visit other countries such as the UK and liaise with Ministers looking at how these countries provide public services for autistic people also looking at good practice in other countries.
Request funding and expertise  from other countries to help set up the Autism Foundation and Autism Projects in Sri Lanka.
Organise an Autism Conference in Colombo aimed at raising awareness through seminars, workshops - for health, education and social services professionals and the voluntary sector - we are prepared to bring a team of experts from the United Kingdom- provided the Government of Sri Lanka funds their visit.
Launch a recruitment and retention campaign to attract special educational needs teachers and specialist speech therapists right across Sri Lanka.
Encourage new ways of thinking where Disabilities and Autism is concerned - education from infant school to univesity is a key area, employment is another area, we also need a debate on Autism and the Elderly.
We urge the Ministry of Health to introduce the CHAT system of early diagnosis for autism - initiated by world autism expert Dr. Simon Barry Cohen of Cambridge University.
We urge the Ministry of Education to develop educational strategies in mainstream schools for children and young people with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
We appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka to provide more funding for public services in health, education, specialist speech therapy and respite care for people with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.
We urge His Excellency the President and the Prime Minister to make a policy statement on Autism and reach out to the Autistic Community in Sri Lanka.
Now is the time for action on Autism in Sri Lanka.


Calling on all medical professionals in Sri Lanka


Please view the CHAT SYSTEM OF EARLY DIAGNOSIS - The Checklist for Autism in Toddlers.
It is written by world autism expert, Dr Simon Barry Cohen, many doctors around the world are now using the CHAT System. Please go to the Autism Research Centre (University of Cambridge) Site on our FAVORITE LINKS page. We recommend that the CHAT System is introduced in Sri Lanka.


Autism Awareness Campaign UK welcomes launch of Rain Man Special Edition


Ivan Corea Chair of the Autism Awareness Campaign welcomed MGM Home Entertainment's launch of the Rain Man Special Limited Edition in the UK. Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise focuses on an autistic savant, played by Hoffman. The film won Hoffman the 1988 Best Actor Academy AwardŽ, Best Picture, Best Director for Barry Levinson and Best Screenplay.

'Autism is a very broad spectrum, not every autistic child or adult is a savant however Rain Man has raised awareness of the condition. There are 520,000 autistic people in the UK - 90,000 are children. People with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome are calling for more public services. Rain Man is a very absorbing film - it has certainly helped raise awareness of autistic savants - we would recommend that you buy the DVD,' said Ivan Corea.

 Mark Oates - DVD Reviewer

These two books are
highly recommended by
the Autism Awareness Campaign



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