Question: How can we better integrate Persons With Autism (PWA) into our Society?
“How would you react if you saw someone with autism in public acting differently?”
Persons with autism (PWAs) make up 1% of our population, but rarely do we see them or the plight they are in. PWAs are often stuck in a vicious cycle of social exclusion, often lacking the necessary opportunities or ability to leave the cycle.
This cycle arises from an underlying social issue. A study showed that individuals are more comfortable being around a person with a physical disability rather than someone who has a learning or mental disability. Additionally, in a dipstick survey, by Dr Dawn-Joy Leong, an autistic with a PhD in autism found that 25 out of the 27 surveyed felt excluded from community and 24 felt discriminated against because of their condition.
This form of social exclusion affects the opportunity a person with autism has, and it affects their daily life. A lack of opportunity also perpetuates a vicious cycle leading to social isolation through lack of skills and inability to contribute meaningfully to society. The consequence of social isolation is an increased mental strain on both the individual as well as their caretaker.
The diagram below helps to illustrate the above described vicious cycle.
We intend to test the methodology that PWAs can be socially integrated through being empowered to cook.
We intend to utilize speicialised cooking devices such as Thermomixes and Instant Pots to teach PWAs food preparation.
The food produced will be given freely to the communities in need. By meeting the physical needs of these communities, this allows the PWAs to play a valuable role in their community. This acts as a starting opportunity to help assist them to leave the cycle through increasing their skills and capabilities to contribute.
More than just training PWAs to gain skills, we as a society need to learn how to integrate them into our circle. As such this project acts as a bridge for engagement to occur.