Commissioner Marlin addresses congregation


GREAT BAY (GIS)—On Thursday April 1, 2010, Commissioner William Marlin was the Keynote Speaker at the service of the Praise Tabernacle Church, held to commemorate Autism Awareness Month, the theme of which is Awesomely Autistic.

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The campaign to promote the awareness of Autism is being conducted by Pastor and Mrs. Aster Allen—Principals of the AHEAD Centre of excellence, a school in Sucker Garden that caters, in part, to autistic children.


Autism is, namely, a person’s inability to communicate and relate to others. Communication can be written, oral, and in processing. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe. Autism, more specifically, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a spectrum of psychological conditions characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, as well as severely restricted interests and highly repetitive behavior.

Commissioner Marlin in preparing to be the Keynote speaker said that in preparing for the engagement he was given an opportunity, not that of being the main speaker, but the opportunity to do some research and some soul searching. He said that in terms of knowing what specifically Autism is, he was taken aback.

Commissioner Marlin said that when he came back from the Netherlands after studying to become a teacher in 1971, and throughout his teaching career and that of being a School Principal, there were encounters with children who were Autistic, but who were labeled as troublesome, unfocused, and dumb—not knowing any better of course.

Today, however, we have come a long way, especially with efforts like that of the Allen’s, to know about Autism. Though these children were slow in certain areas, they, at times, were good or excelled in other areas. In the past, he said, educators and the population in general were unable to deal with such issues.

So in light of the progress that we have made, I want to thank you the Allens for the awareness, thank you for educating me, schools, principals, parents, and the general community. We have to give an equal chance to those with disabilities.

We have to face such issues, for they are not going anywhere. We have to do something about it, we have to treat it. These youngsters will grow up, so we have to provide them with the tools, equip them as best as we can so that they can learn and be, to the best of their abilities, productive citizens.

We have to give them a chance, Commissioner Marlin said. We cannot keep them behind closed doors. It is our collective responsibility.

At the end the speech, colorful balloons, representing Autism, were released. Pastor and Aster Allen have several activities planned for the month to commemorate Autism awareness.