Change of heart
Last week, our charity, Autism Treatment Trust organised a small exhibition at the Scottish Parliament. I took this opportunity to film and photograph the site.
I’ll skip on the controversy regarding the cost of this building and whether or not this is art, I let you to judge for yourself. But I thought perhaps it would be an opportunity to express a little what a parliament is for.
Incidentally, last week, there were also some high school students protesting against the plans to set University fees in Scotland. As you know, Universities in Scotland are free for people living in the country, a refreshing contrast with England and the US. Setting huge entry fees to universities is in my mind a very anti-democratic move.
But what is democracy really and does it work?
“Do you think majority stand for evidence of truth?” (Quote from Girl X, theatre play, Pol Heyvaert, Robert Softley & Bart Capelle. Edinburgh 05.03.11).
“The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.” (Gandhi).
Autism is what brought us last week to the Parliament. A change of heart is likely what it would take to respond more effectively to the growing number of children affected with autism and related conditions. The numbers speaks for themselves.
In 2010, there were 6,506 children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in schools (primary, secondary, special education combined). This is just under 1% of the school population. There were also 7,200 children with speech or communication disorder and a further 14,738 children with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties; in total, 28,444 children affected with related conditions, or 4.2% of the school population. Importantly, special education teachers and head teachers have reported children presenting with autism in schools who are still not diagnosed today. These two additional speech and behavioural categories almost certainly include children with an ASD. For information, 9.3% of the total school population is classified as having additional needs. That is almost double the figure of last year, and this does not relate to better awareness or better diagnosis, because many children are still incorrectly diagnosed.
A change of heart… is often all what it takes to make things better for other people.
Sorry- No view of the debating chamber.