The school communities of St. Matthew in Sarnia and Our Lady of Fatima in Chatham participated in flag raising events on April 2nd in recognition of World Autism Day.
The flag raising events, organized by Autism Ontario, are organized to unite families, schools, communities, government and professionals and bring to light the struggles and triumphs of people on the autism spectrum.
St. Matthew is the site of a pilot program of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Launched in the 2017-2018 school year, the purpose of the program is to improve school-based supports for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A dedicated on-site space allows external practitioners to come into the school and deliver services to students with ASD. The pilot focuses on developing supports for students with ASD through staff training and the development of the dedicated space for students currently receiving Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy. A project coordinator and a board certified Behaviour Analyst oversee the program and support school staff.
Our Lady of Fatima hosts the Autism Transition Classroom in Chatham-Kent. During the brief flag raising ceremony at Our Lady of Fatima, students and staff united in prayer for Autism Awareness Month:
Loving God, Bless today in special ways all the children, adults and families who see the world through the window of autism. May Your Spirit burn bright in them and all who celebrate the honour and the richness of our diversity, during this Autism Awareness month of April.
Grant us, O Lord, the wisdom to see Your image reflected in all of our differences and to recognize the unique gifts we each have to offer. May the doors of Ministry in our Church continue to open wide in welcome to all of God's family.
We ask this in Jesus' Holy Name. Amen.
In the photos students gather at (top) St. Matthew Catholic School, Sarnia; and (middle) Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, Chatham to 'raise the flag' in recognition of World Autism Day. Below, the Autism Ontario flag.