New Autism Society launched in Cayman

A new nonprofit organization, launching Monday, aims to provide support for families impacted by autism.

Among the key concerns for the new Autism Society is the lack of insurance coverage in Cayman for proven therapies for children with the condition.

The society also hopes to raise funds to assist affected families and improve access to education and employment for young people on the spectrum.

A launch event is planned Monday evening at Camana Bay. The event will include a showing of the documentary “Life Animated,” an Oscar-winning movie about a young man on the autism spectrum.

A reception will follow at Abacus from 8 p.m. featuring a question-and-answer session with the board. Premier Alden McLaughlin is scheduled to attend.

Morne Botes, one of the founders of the organization, said, “The Autism Society of the Cayman Islands was formed by a group of parents who understand firsthand the challenges faced by their children and their families and who are committed to making a positive contribution to our community, and supporting other families impacted by autism.”

Mr. Botes, whose son has autism, said the society wanted to increase public understanding of the condition.

He said, “Many local private insurance companies do not cover evidence-based intervention treatments for autism, and of those that do provide some benefit, it is generally minimal (US$1,000 per year) compared to the considerable cost of specialized interventions.”

He said the primary goals of the society are to raise awareness through public education, advocate for better access to health insurance, raise funds to support families with funding interventions, and to create a supportive network for impacted families.

The founding board of directors include Mr. Botes, Shani Petzer, Kim Voaden, Wendy Whittaker, Shan Harriman, Erik Faustino and Shirleen Thames.

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