New Autism Center in Pakse open

Since almost 3 years the Association for Autism is also working in Pakse, one of the provincial capitals in the South of Laos. Support came from different organisations, among them UNDEF and USAID. Especially under the USAID-financed TEAM project AfA conducted many activities in the South, form awareness raising to screening of children with suspected development disorders. Parents came with their kids also to Vientiane with the aim to benefit form education services offered by the Vientiane Autism Center and to learn how to better deal with their children with special needs. Finally a not very efficient and also pretty costly method. So some of the parents in Pakse asked: why not having a center in Pakse?
When Handicap International (HI) asked for project proposals to support people with disabilities the AfA board decided to submit a plan to establish a center down in the South. This was about one year ago. In the meantime teachers have been trained, a director prepared for the tasks … and new kids screened. Since January 2017 the Pakse Autism Center educates children with autism, the same way as VAC is doing: preparing them for primary school.
For being able to do so PAC needs support. Teachers are trained, but not yet experienced. VAC helps to fill the gap by sending experienced teachers for support. In addition to the academic director who coaches PAC staff as part of the HI project. Parents are asking for more explanations. More teachers are needed.
But the center is open. April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. The best opportunity to let more people know by organising an official opening ceremony.

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A successful year comes to its end

Preparing for the annual meeting of the Association for Autism we were surprised what we achieved in 2016! Starting in January with the successful participation at the first AAN Autism Games in the Philippines and not ending with the Christmas Party at VAC last week. We were busy the whole year round and sometimes forgot to talk about all our achievements on our website. For all who would like to stay in touch permanently: most activities are almost immediately reported on our facebook page.
Here just some highlights of 2016:
After the Autism Games in January we prepared for another celebration of the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD, April 2nd). This year the almost traditional sales exhibition of painting got another premier: painting made by our kids with autism. They were great and sold very well. Many thanks to Catholic Relief Services and the Mercure Hotel for the support. End of April the biggest ever awareness raising event of AfA draw almost 2.000 people to the Glow Run along the Mekong River. Thanks EFG for the organisation and the 5000 USD raised on this occasion.
Our kids successfully participated at the Autism Games in Khon Kaen (Thailand). 15 of them learned at public primary and secondary school jointly with other children.
The Vientiane Autism Center saw a number of great changes. Thanks to support from the Polish Embassy in Bangkok and the Vientiane Diamond Cutting Company (VDCC) we got a modern and well equipped kitchen not only providing day after day food for almost 70 people but also being used as place for life skill and vocational training for our kids.
In May we opened a Toy Library offering not just toys but also learning and teaching aids as well as training for parents on the proper use of toys and support equipment for children with autism. This was supported by the Luxembourg Embassy to Laos. Respective training for teachers and parents were supported by the embassy and VDCC.
We went on with our activities under the TEAM project (financed by USAID) with focus on the three southern provinces Champasak, Savannakhet and Khammouane raising awareness, training people and identifying many children with intellectual disabilities. As part of the TEAM project we launched the android app Lao Autism Talks in September, the first tool for picture based communication in Lao language. This activity was also supported by the TRUE Corporation (Thailand) donating 45 tablet computers to AfA, as well as the Autistic Thai association, the Autism Research Center Khon Kaen and the Khon Kaen Autism Association.
At the end of August AfA organised the second Family Camp, this time in Khon Kaen (Thailand) with almost 100 participants.
Many activities have been undertaken to further train our teachers, supported and coordinated by Ms Sharon Gorton, our volunteer and very good friend from Australia.
In November we started our newest project this time with Handicap International (financed by EU). The only but very challenging goal of this project is the establishment of a new autism center in the southern provincial capital of Pakse early 2017.
Last but not least many thanks to all donors around the world. Thanks to this continuous and valuable support we were able to provide scholarships to 16 children throughout the year 2016 at a total amount of 1.750 USD per month.

Thank you very much! Without this great support of many organisations and people from around the globe none of these great achievements would have be possible. We wish all of you a prosperous and successful 2017!

Great success of Autism Awareness Campaign 2016

Every year on April 2nd activists all over the world celebrate the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD). In Laos we do so since 2011. In many countries marking just one day for autism awareness is not enough as many different activities to disseminate information about the Autism Spectrum Disorder are organised. Association for Autism, the parents association of persons with autism in Lao PDR, started on April 2nd with the paintings sales exhibition. Held for the third year in a row and again greatly supported by Mercure Hotel Vientiane the event offered something very new. For the first time pictures painted by children and teenagers with autism were part of the exhibition.


One of our talented young artists

One objective of WAAD celebration is also to raise money enabling AfA to further support children with autism in their education efforts by providing scholarships. This year many companies in Laos reacted to our call and donated in cash or kind. Other activities like TV programs and provision of information about autism through different media were spread throughout the month of April.
This year’s campaign concluded on April 30 with the Glow Run For Autism. The event, organised with support of EFG company, saw almost 2.000 people gathering on the Mekong river bank for a fun run of 5 km along the river. This event alone added 46,5 million Kip to the AfA account.
dance 2016

Warming up the crowd – dance performance of children with autism

A very big thank you to all our helpers and supporters contributing to the big success of the 2016 Autism Awareness Campaign in Laos.

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Playing sports

In January a small team of AfA participated at the 1st ASEAN Autism Friendship Games in Laguna,Philippines, 14-15 January 2016. Our 3 participants came back with 3 medals: Weston won gold in bowling under 13 years, Marcel and Alex won silver in bowling over 13 years and 50 m running under 13 years respectively.

Our medal winning team with coach T.C.

Our medal winning team with coach T.C.

In February a bigger team participated at the 8th Autistic Games in Khon Kaen, Thailand. They came back with two gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. Many thanks to CRS, Asia Foundation, JICA and mamny many more for supporting our successful athletes.
Our successful team to Khon Kaen

Our successful team to Khon Kaen

On March 6 an even bigger team of children with autism, parents, teachers relatives and friends joined the 5 km Fun Run on the occasion of the Vientiane International Half Marathon. Very good job, guys.
AfA camp after the run

AfA camp after the run

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Preparing for the 3rd congress of ASEAN Autism Network

In 2010 the ASEAN Autism Network was founded and held its first congress in Bangkok, Thailand. The network is uniting associations of parents of children with autism throughout the South-east Asian region. In 2013 AAN met for its second congress in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. In both congresses members from 9 ASEAN countries had the great opportunity to share experiences, to visit education institutions for children with autism and to agree on joint activities. AfA very much appreciates the support lend by the more experienced association to the relative latecomers like us.
Now we are preparing for the 3rd congress which will take place in Los Baños, Laguna province, Philippines, 14.-17. January 2016. Not only the location but also the focus of the congress changed over time. Have the first congresses concentrated on sharing knowledge and experiences, the third will put the persons with autism in the centre. Different creative and sports activities are scheduled for the event such as swimming, bowling running, colouring and clay moulding as well as leisure games.
swimm training1511
So far we could ensure the participation of 3 of our children accompanied by parents and supporters. We still have to prepare our kids on how to travel by plane, but we are optimistic that we can manage this. It would be nice if we could provide more children the chance to participate as many more than the three selected prepared seriously in different training activities. But parents and AfA are not able to shoulder the cost of approximately 1.500 USD per participant. The current 8 persons are able to travel to the Philippines thanks to the generous support form the Japan Foundation and Catholic Relief Services.

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Urgent call for support

Dear friends,

AfA has been invited to participate at the 3rd AAN Congress in January in Laguna, Philippines. We would like to send 4 of our kids to participate at the sports and arts events planned during that congress and ensure proper guidance by parents and teachers/trainer during that time. But our budget is limited. There for we ask for support. Formore details please refer to our letter attached here.
Donation letter 151121-2

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VAC Renovierung beginnt

Dank der Unterstützung durch die Australische Botschaft in Vientiane kann das Gebäude des Vientiane Autism Center erstmals seit Eröffnung im Jahr 2009 umfassend renoviert werden. Bei dieser Gelegenheit werden auch eine Reihe baulicher Verbesserungen vorgenommen. Das Gebäude wird von den Eltern von Marcel kostenlos zur Verfügung gestellt und erlebte seit Eröffnung als VAC schon zwei Erweiterungen, die vom Besitzer finanziert wurden. Im Zuge der Renovierung erhielten alle Unterrichtsräume Klimaanlagen und der Außenbereich, von den Kindern vor allem zum Essen genutzt, wurde neu überdacht. Durch den neu angelegten separaten Zugang zum Büro des Autismusvereins müssen Besucher nicht mehr die Unterrichtsräume des Zentrums durchqueren.

Ganz in blau: Das VAC erhält einen neuen Anstrich in blauer Farbe

Ganz in blau: Das VAC erhält einen neuen Anstrich in blauer Farbe

Im weiteren wird das Zentrum einen neuen Fitnessbereich erhalten. Die Gesamtkosten der Arbeiten belaufen sich auf rund 15.000 US-Dollar.

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Gelungener April

Am 2. April begingen wir gemeinsam mit Freunden in aller Welt den 2008 von der UNO festgelegten Weltautismus-Tag. In diesem Jahr versammelten sich etwa 240 Freunde und Mitglieder von AfA am Patousay, dem Wahrzeichen von Vientiane. Nach einer zünftigen Aerobic-Runde erstrahlte das Areal im Zeichen der Autismus-Kampagne “Light it up blue” in blauem Licht. Zur gleichen Zeit erläutere EU-Delegationsleiter Michel Goffin laotischen Medien vor dem gleichfalls blau leuchtenden Europahaus in Vientiane die Hintergründe der Aktion.
Vom 2. bis 5. April verkauften die Vientianer Filialen der Caféhauskette JoMa eigens hergestellte Kekse in Puzzleform. Künstler aus Laos, Thailand und Vietnam hatten auch in diesem Jahr Bilder gespendet, die vom 3. bis 5. April in einer vom Mercure-Hotel Vientiane unterstützten Ausstellung verkauft wurden. Popsängerin Aluna überraschte bei der Vernissage mit einer eindrucksvollen Akustik-Version ihres Autismussongs “In Your Arms”. Der Erlös der Aktion kommt auch in diesem Jahr dem Stipendienfonds von AfA, der Weiterbildung von SonderschulerzieherInnen und dem Betrieb der Geschäftsstelle von AfA zugute.
In den laotischen Fernsehprogrammen lief eine neuer Beitrag über Autismus, diesmal über die Erfolge kontinuierlicher Bildungsarbeit. Alles in allem sehr anstrengende, aber auch ebenso eindrucksvolle und erfolgreiche Tage Anfang April.

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Neues Entwicklungsprojekt für AfA

In der ersten Runde von Projektvorschlägen für den Leahy War Victims Fund gehörte auch der Projektvorschlag der Association for Autism zu den ausgewählten Vorhaben. Von April 2015 bis März 2017 wird das Projekt in 2 Komponenten dafür Sorge tragen, dass mehr Kinder mit Autismus in Laos erfasst werden können und die Kinder selbst sowie deren Familien bessere Unterstützung erhalten. Das Projekt, das den aus den englischen Begriffen Training, Economic Empowerment, Assistive Technology und Medical Rehabilitation gebildeten Namen TEAM erhielt, wird von der US-amerikanischen Entwicklungsagentur USAID finanziert und in Laos von World Education koordiniert.

AfA-Präsidenting Phokham Douangdala nimmt aus den Händen von US-Botschafter Daniel A. Clune die Bestätigungsurkunde entgegen

AfA-Präsidenting Phokham Douangdala nimmt aus den Händen von US-Botschafter Daniel A. Clune die Bestätigungsurkunde entgegen

AfA wird in Komponente 1 des Vorhabens speziell in den Provinzen Champasak, Savannakhet und Khammouane Mitarbeiter des Gesundheits- sowie des Bildungswesens in der Früherkennung von Anzeichen von Autismus schulen und Familien mit autistischen Kindern Beratung und Unterstützung anbieten. In den drei Provinzen soll die Zusammenarbeit der Eltern gefördert werden und so lokale Verbände von AfA entstehen. Erste Schritte in Savannakhet haben schon Früchte getragen (siehe auch “Neuer AfA-Vorstand gewählt”). Komponente 2 widmet sich der Entwicklung eines bildgestützten Kommunikationssystems für Android-Geräte und die dazugehörige Schulung für Lehrkräfte und Eltern.

Neuer AfA-Vorstand gewählt

Am 09. Mai 2015 wählten die Mitglieder der Association for Autism ihren neuen, auf 7 Mitglieder erweiterten Vorstand. Damit ist AfA besser für die anstehenden Aufgaben, speziell die Ausweitung ihrer Aktivitäten in die Provinzen von Laos, vorbereitet. Im neuen Vorstand sind neben der neuen Präsidentin Frau Phokham Douangdala die alten und neuen Vizepräsidenten Herr Saykham Phommachanh und Frau Thongkham Vongsay (zugleich Direktorin des Vientiane Autism Center) sowie die Mitglieder Frau Viengsam Indavong, Frau Phoukham Phakonekham, Herr Bounyang Keuthongsa und Herr Thatsana Phenglavong vertreten. Unsere erste Präsidentin Viengsam Indavong studiert derzeit zum Thema Menschen mit Behinderungen in Australien. Mit Herrn Bounyang Keuthongsa hat der Vorstand erstmals einen Vertreter in Savannakhet. Die gleichfalls gewählte dreiköpfige Kontrollkommission besteht nun aus Frau Kapkeo Luangamath, Frau Keomany Sihachak und Frau Bouachanh Miengmany.

Mitglieder des neuen Vorstands und der Kontrollkommission

Mitglieder des neuen Vorstands und der Kontrollkommission

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