#IAmTheFirstStep: Inspirational Trending Hashtag Raises Awareness About Autism in Egypt

In a country where discrimination, ignorance and stereotyping seem to dominate, people on the autism spectrum often end up being excluded from society. Due to misconceptions regarding autism, people automatically assume that an autistic person is incapable of communicating or thriving in any field of work. The condition has an extremely wide range, where every affected person has his own social and behavioral challenges.

In an attempt to help the public understand what it means to live with the condition, the founder of The Egyptian Autistic Society and co-founder of Kodorat Project, Dahlia Soliman, chose a special theme for this year’s autism awareness campaign #IAmTheFirstStep, in which family members, educators and friends share the first step they took to improve the life of a child on the autism spectrum.

The Egyptian community needs to understand that it is extremely difficult for parents to share their pain in public, to share the emotional agony they endure the minute they realize their child will always struggle, to share the way their whole lifestyle is altered to accommodate the well-being of their kid, to share how devastating it is when their children are kicked out of schools or sports teams and how incredibly difficult it is to make friends and survive the bullying driven by ignorance.

We all need to educate ourselves, if not for the sake of our children on the spectrum, then for the sake of teaching healthy children that the difficulty autistic children find in expressing emotions doesn’t mean lack of empathy. We need to get over the stereotype that they are violent or intellectually disabled. The minute we all realize that these children are eager to learn and are capable of showing significant improvement, we will be able to improve their quality of life with the right approach.

Here are some of the inspirational and heart-warming stories people shared on social media:

 

 

 

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WE SAID THIS: Check out The Egyptian Autistic Society on Facebook here.

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