Lions, Lioness, Leos,

Delegates to this year’s Multiple District Convention in Launceston are being asked to vote on a range of Motions including one put forward by our own District 201N5 concerning early intervention preschool autism spectrum disorder education and therapy.  The purpose of this email is to give you enough information so that your Club delegates can make an informed decision on the Motion.

So what is Autism Spectrum Disorder? We have all heard about autism and there is a very strong possibility that someone you know is affected by autism, generally by having a family member or friend with autism. Sadly Autism Spectrum Disorders (as they are correctly known) are lifelong developmental disabilities characterised by marked difficulties in social interaction, impaired communication, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours and sensory sensitivities.

So why focus on preschoolers? Evidenced-based practice research has concluded strongly that early intervention for children aged five years and under with a disability such as autism can greatly improve a child’s chances of leading a normal lifestyle. There are many sponsored therapies available to children who are autistic once school age is attained however these benefits are not available, except at high cost to parents, for preschool children. Research shows that these important years and access to therapy are vital to support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in developing the much needed social and learning skills for their future.

What will it cost your Club?  The simple answer is nothing – not a cent. Unlike many projects all we need is your time and your effort. You will be asked to make representations to Government at all levels to increase financial support for preschool AutismSpectrum Disorder education, and the sponsoring Club will be providing material to help you spread the word.

Lions, many years ago we were challenged by Helen Keller to be champions for the blind, and Lions are justifiably famous for our work with sight impaired people across the world. Think of the endless possibilities of Lions tackling autism and becoming known for speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. There are many disabilities that are crying out for champions. Let’s take them one at a time and make a real difference.

Many thanks for your help.

Yours in Lionism

Reg Walker

Cabinet Secretary 2010-2011

Lions District 201N5