Discussions about the establishment of a parent support and advocacy organization began among parents in 2006, subsequent to the experience of Jamaican parents sharing their experience with other Jamaican parents in the USA at a treatment facility. Initially, the meetings were among this select group of parents, who supported each other by offering shoulders to cry on, ears to hear and sharing of information about schools and therapies.
In April 2006, the Rotary Club of Kingston, UNICEF, the Kingston YMCA and the Early Childhood Commission in collaboration with the group of parents, held an Autism Workshop with the main objectives being the education of parents and professionals on autism and the establishment of a Parent Support Group.
The first official meeting of JASA was held in 2007. Meetings are held regularly on the last Saturday of each month at the Kingston YMCA.
Goals of JASA:
1. To raise awareness about Autism in Jamaica
2. To assist in research on the prevalence of autism in Jamaica
3. To advocate for Action, Intervention, Accommodations and Solutions:
o Tax Relief for Autism individuals and families affected
o Early Screening
o Free health care, Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapy, psychiatric and psychological care
o Subsidized Education (parents to only pay the same as all others, no extra for special care)
4. To take the steps necessary to have an education system in Jamaica that is inclusive for our children
Funding Support for JASA:
Funding support for JASA would allow the following:
1) Expansion of the annual workshops and seminars for parents and professionals to rural areas
2) Development and production of materials for parents and professionals (particularly educators) similar to that developed by advocacy groups in other parts of the world, but specific to the Jamaican situation. This will allow our parents to have appropriate guidance in managing their children and allow educators to learn more about classroom strategies, therefore ensuring more inclusive education for Jamaican autistic children.