Ho Chi Minh City, 7th November, 2020 – Over 350 children with autism spectrum disorder along with their parents and teacher had an exciting day at Ho Xuan Huong Stadium, District 3. The Sports event and Teacher Appreciation Day was jointly organised by Vietnam Autism Network (VAN), Saigon Children’s Charity (saigonchildren), and Department of Culture and Sports Ho Chi Minh city to celebrate Vietnamese Teachers’ Day 20th November. This event, specially organised for children with autism, is not only meaningful to the kids when they could connect with other friends and develop social skills, but also recognising the importance of teachers, practitioners, and specialists in the autism supporting community.
At the event, hundreds of autistic children participated in games that aimed to help them develop their senses and skills, such as putting balls in a hole, bead threading, decorating strawberry, etc. Sports like baseball, hockey, soccer, and broad jumping also attracted a lot of participation. Before that, on the morning of 6th November, a swimming tournament for autistic children, as part of this event, was held at Yet Kieu swimming pool in District 1.
The event recognised the dedication and hard work of many practitioners in helping children in the spectrum reach their potentials. Over 50 appreciation gifts were given on stage to teachers, professionals, and doctors working with kids with autism.
“Teaching can be hard work, especially when children face challenges like autism and developmental delay, but through your hard work, you create moments of magic where these wonderful children can develop and learn. You will help children speak their first words, communicate their feelings, and begin to look after themselves in small and important ways,” said Mr. Damien Roberts, saigonchildren’s Executive Director, at the event.
Ms. Pham Thi Kim Tam, president of the Vietnam Autism Network (VAN) said: “Every year, VAN organises this event for children with autism and the event this year takes place in November to appreciate the teachers and practitioners in this field. We understand that every autistic child’s journey does not only have parents and grandparents, but also the companionship of many doctors, professionals, and teachers. Through this event, we also hope that children with autism spectrum disorder will have more playground designed for them, and the society will understand and sympathise more with the diverse autistic community.
Like other events co-organised by VAN and saigonchildren, the Sports Day this year is specially tailored for autistic children with a particular “social story”* designed by the organisers and sent to the family in advance, to help parents explain the event and prepare their children mentally at home. In addition, the event also provides a “quiet room”, which is a separate area with bean bags and tents so that children can relax and enjoy their time in silence if they feel too overwhelmed by what was going on on the stage.
* A social story is a narrative made to illustrate certain situations and problems and how people deal with them. They help children with autism understand social norms and learn how to communicate with others appropriately.