The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation through its official Autism Ambassador Quinn Garren James Smith, this Wednesday July 18-2012 started a new partnership with the Adonijah Group of Schools for students with special needs; to establish the Quinn Garren James Smith Computer Lab at the Adonijah School.
The lab received its first input a brand new computer for use by all students attending the school which caters to a wide range of children who are affected by intellectual disabilities.
The computer acquisition was funded by The Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation which received an injection of support funding from US based Jamaican businessman David “Squeeze” Annakie, who intervened in May this year, when the Foundation announced its intent to close due to a lack of resources to continue its various outreach programmes.
Mr. Annakie held a fundraising event for the Foundation in the United States which mobilized monetary support from members of the Diaspora - which netted just about 1 million dollars for the Foundation.
The funds went towards paying for over four dozen screenings by professional Autism experts operating in Jamaica for suspected Autism affected persons; as well as the start of the establishment of the new lab for the Adonijah School.
There will be further output from the monies towards the acquiring of prostheses for car collision victims, paying for transport for disabled persons to seek medical attention and assessments as well as the purchasing of food and other vitals for the clients of the Foundation who due to their grappling with a life of disability are unable to work to pay for their own care.
Chung-Smith Managing Director of the Foundation elaborated, ‘the money came in time to prevent us from closing, to pay taxes owed for our operations over our four years of existence, which as non-profit and non-governmental is very hard for us to pay and deliver the support we do, for which do not charge our clients for – as they cannot pay as they are poorest of the poor’.
She added, “the Adonijah school is a great facility and has done wonders for the special needs community, in academics, therapy and enabling and empowering the affected to assume their rightful place as members that can greatly contribute to the society’s development’.
“Our Foundation has come to find that the technological input of laptop computers works wonders in developing the talents of special needs children and people generally. The school has been functioning without such a lab and we feel that this input is greatly needed and can further enhance their great work and assistance to society for the issue of education provision for special needs people” – Miss Chung said further.
The Adonijah Group of School has the distinction of matriculating several special needs students including Autistic individuals, into traditional high schools like Meadowbrook and Jamaica College High School , through the GSAT examination.
The school has a kindergarten, preparatory, junior high and special education unit. Located in Kingston Jamaica the school has been steadily gaining heightened credibility as an excellent facility for the special needs community.
Principal and Founder of the school Mrs. Ruthlyn James says “the laptop will be primary used for visual and auditory stimulation especially in the school’s Sound Therapy Programme, as it is portable and can be used class by class by our intervention specialist”.
According to Mrs. James, “as we all know children are excited by technology but more so Autistic children. This machine will also be used for interactive learning programmes particularly for our non- verbal children and those who have not fully developed there transcribing skill yet they are language aware and are capable of typing and clicking suitable responses”.
The Foundation is committing to increasing the count of the computers for the lab every six months over the next year and are issuing a call to the nation, region and Diaspora to join the effort at making a difference by considering donating to the lab, a new laptop to aid the growth of the facility which is one of the few that exist in the country that offers such a comprehensive special education offering.
Autism is defined by the Autism Society Of America (ASA) as: "Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
Autism is one of five disorders that falls under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development."