Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
President Reuven Rivlin, Deputy Health Minister Yaacov Litzman and participants at Beit HaNasi at 2019 World Autism Awareness Day event

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin hosted an event for the first time at his official presidential residence, “Beit HaNasi” on Sunday (March 24) to mark World Autism Awareness Day which falls each year on April 2.

“Deputy” Health Minister Yaacov Litzman and children and adults on the Autistic Spectrum participated in the event along with representatives of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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During the event, 11-year old Roi Mor, who was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum at the age of a year and a half, performed an original composition called ‘Harmony’. Roi has exceptional musical talents and he composed this piece at the age of 10. There was also an exhibition of works by artists on the autism spectrum from three different shows: ‘A Bridge to the World’ at the ALUT center in Jerusalem; ‘Out of the Bubble – Autism: Not What You Thought’ by Tali Kagan, mother of Idan; and ‘In My Own Way’ by the artist Nevo Afek.

An estimated 25,000 Israelis carry a diagnosis on the Autistic Spectrum at present. “That means that every one of us knows someone, an adult or child, who deals with autism,” Rivlin pointed out. “There is also a steady increase in those diagnosed each year. This rise requires the State of Israel and our society to promote treatment and support for those with autism and their families, from birth to old age.

“Integration of children and adults with autism in society is a task of the highest priority which every one of us can and must engage with,” said the president.

“In a world where many people do not listen and many people shout, there are those who fight to listen and those who fight to be heard, even when they have no voice,” said Lihi Lapid, mother of Yaeli, also on the Autistic Spectrum.

“Today I am here, trying to explain in words – which are what my daughter does not have – what it means to be autistic. In a survey of parents, over 80 percent of them said that they would not want their child to be in a group with a child with special needs, and so I want to thank President Rivlin for opening up his house to send the message to all Israel to reach out to children and adults with autism. Not only not to be scared of them, but to help them find their place and succeed as much as they can within the community.”

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