It was a combination of passion, enthusiasm and determination that led parents of children living with Autism to establish the organization – Autism Limpopo. Initially the concept’s main aim was primarily to forge a convergence of children and adults with Autism and their families for support, appreciation and companionship; and to serve as a source of information, advocacy, and to create awareness about the condition, with the ultimate goal of lobbying with relevant governing structures for the development of Autism-specific facilities such as schools, adult centres, etc. within the province.
The need for services for individuals with autism was realized three decades ago and has been continuing ever since. Autism Limpopo represents individuals with autism within the Department of Social Development, the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, the Department of Health, and the Department of Education at all levels within the province. In 2014 the executive members embarked on an outreach to educate the public about Autism through awareness sessions. Organizations to which we currently are affiliated include the Mental Health-care Association, DPSA and Autism South Africa. We aim to ensure that individuals with Autism have a voice at every level of society.
In 2011 the first constitution of Autism Limpopo was drawn up and the Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) status was applied for. Then it was officially registered as an NPO on the 25 th of April 2013. With the assistance and support of Autism South Africa as their mentor, Autism Limpopo (ALIM) held its first annual World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) Campaign in April 2010 coupled with on-air interviews by several national and provincial radio stations to make ALIM a recognized body in Limpopo for people living with autism. The significance of WAAD is to commemorate the 2nd of April as the day that was declared and mandated by the United Nations and the first ever World Autism Awareness Day was held during 2008.
In April 2012 the Limpopo leg of WAAD commemoration was sponsored by local businesses, churches, support group members and other organizations. By invitation, in October of 2012 ALIM was represented at the Association for Autism (AFA) conference by one of the parents (Ralinah Maepa) where she presented a paper on Autism Advocacy and Education at the said conference and a private sponsor covered her travel and accommodation expenses. In addition to regular parental support group meetings, gradually the organization got invited to schools and churches to give awareness presentations and to relevant governmental meetings where individuals with disability were included.