Photo Credit: BVI Platinum
Thanks to the efforts of organisations such as ‘All Hands and Hearts’ and donations from charitable organisations, the BVI Autism Centre is 95 percent complete, and is one step closer to being reopened.
Director of the centre, Lorna Dawson gave BVI Platinum News a tour of the renovated facility, explaining that the building only needs to be furnished at this point.
They have come a long way from the destruction of Hurricane Irma, she shared.
“With the passage of the hurricane, the centre itself was destroyed, the roof came off and subsequently we lost most of the resources that we had inside—especially furniture and equipment,” Dawson shared.
Through the assistance of All Hands and Hearts, the Rotaract Club, and donations from other sources, the Autism Centre was rebuilt.
The centre occupies the same building as the Rainbow Children’s Home, which is located in the bottom flat. Thankfully, the home remained almost untouched by the destruction that engulfed their upper neighbour.
“The Autism Centre falls under the Disability Services Unit in the Social Development Department, and within that Unit we have the Autism Centre, which supports both children and adults with autism,” Dawson explained.
This centre provides a vital service to over 30 autistic children, as well as four adults.
Dawson noted that the “children are not there all the time…during the regular school days, children are at their respective schools and they just come to us for sessions, maximum an hour, or we go to their schools and work with them there.”
“We do have a few younger children who may be at home and we work with them at home or adults who are home and we work with them at home,” she added.
While there was not a major disturbance to the work being carried out by the centre, the hurricane’s damning results have caused some setbacks.
“Since we’ve been open in 2012, we offer camps every vacation because what we found typically with children with disabilities, very often they are not able to fit into regular camps that are offered by different groups and organisations. So we started offering camps, not just for children with autism, but children with disabilities,” the Director related.
Children who do not suffer from autism also attend these camps so that autistic children could learn to interact and learn inclusiveness; however, Dawson shared that since the hurricane, they have been unable to hold any such camps.
She is hopeful that activities will return to normalcy as soon as the centre reopens.