As the interest in autism grows around Guyana, the Special Education Needs Unit (SEN); the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) and the Region Three Education Department on Tuesday held an awareness campaign in West Demerara to enlighten residents about the realities of children living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.A section of the persons who attended the sensitisation forumAccording to a release issued by the Education Ministry of, the event was facilitated at the Vreed-en-Hoop Primary School, West Coast Demerara.SEN Education Officer Akeshia Benjamin said autism awareness was very important as it helped persons to know the warning signs and symptoms and importantly, how to treat those persons to avoid discrimination and mental illness.She noted, “It is a category of disability, however; while it has been on the back burner for quite some time, efforts are in train to make it a front-burner issue as autistic children are also important and should not be seen as less than any child. This is because children with special needs also deserve a chance to realise their true and full potential through the education sector.”The release stated, “As is, the Ministry via each educational district has officers engaged in a process of assessing and identifying children with all other forms of disability, including autism.“Following the assessment, we are able to not only identify but fashion programmes to support those with special needs.“Autism is one of a group of serious developmental problems called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a diagnosis that describes significant social, communicative and behavioural challenges which appear in early childhood (usually before three years old)”.Region Three Regional Education Officer Anesta Douglas expressed gratitude for the forum that offered awareness about children in the Region who are autistic. Douglas also urged persons to embrace autistic people and not discriminate.United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative Audrey Rodrigues reminded that the organisation advocated for children’s rights and noted that every child had a right to an education. “Every child is a child no matter what and we are making sure that every child has and continues to be catered for through empowering of women and girls with autism everywhere,” Rodrigues noted.Education Officer Keon Cheong shared an overview of the constraints associated with treating and caring for autistic children among others.The Education Ministry, in addition to Tuesday’s sensitisation forum, has also planned several other activities for the Region to boost awareness on the issue. Some of the activities include a Parent-Teachers Association awareness forum and staff development sessions.