APA AGM Report 2016

Page 1

Autism Parents Association Annual General Meeting 2016 Guardian Angel Resource Centre, Hamrun

Table of Contents  Message from the President  APA a journey through the years  Meet the 2015 Committee  An overview of the year  Public Relations Report  Projects today and tomorrow  Financial Report  Autism Europe Membership  APA on Social Media  Election of the new committee

Message from the President Dear Members,

I would like to start by thanking everyone present and also those who wished to be here but could not make it.

This year in particular, it is with great honour to inform you, that APA has grown both in terms of family members and in terms of public recognition both locally and across Europe. Although both are in double digits we still believe that our main focus is to remain primarily to support the families in their daily endeavours and to educate the public in general.

At APA our key objective is to be in line with Autism Europe’s campaign around the theme “Respect, Acceptance and Inclusion”. APA is now a full member of Autism Europe and will embrace the objective of this campaign not only during the Autism Awareness Month but all through the year. We will work towards challenging people to better understand what it is like to live with Autism, hence shifting the focus from “awareness” to “acceptance”.

Regretfully, the daily challenge for people with Autism is primiarily based on the discrimination they face on a daily basis. Certain attitudes and stereotype behaviour deviate participation for people on the spectum within our society, so it is time for us to put our heads together and work harder so that we help our society in becoming more accessible and more focused towards our special kids. Autism Europe emphasis the key role each member in society can play in removing some of the core barriers to inclusion faced by people with Autism. Each step in life has its challenges starting from obtaining the right education that meets the learning style of people with autism, to securing employment and finally to actively participate in the community.

From my perspective and hopefully many of you here today will agree that along these years APA has managed to overcome a number of obstacles. Education was on the forefront of our public relation intitatives but the fact is that only a few of the people we meet can actually understand what Autism is all about. Being a parent of a child with Autism is no easy job and one must live it to understand the feeling and the frustrations of bringing up a child under the spectrum. This is all due to the barriers and rigid systems we face every day.

Having said this, by just understanding we are not going to reach anywhere. The biggest challenge is to recognise the potential of each and every child and guide them in the right direction. It is important for our children to be active participants in our society.

This year, on APA’s agenda we have started the shift towards understanding the youth’s requirements by setting up a group to support young adults find a scope in their daily routine. Figures show that notwithstanding the number of years attending “inclusive education” people on the spectrum still find it very difficult to find a job. Each person on the spectrum may have a special ability as they see the world from a different perspective and therefore one stands to question whether the current system is actually suppressing rather than empowering people on the spectrum.

We are very pleased however to have been part of the Autism Empowerment Bill, the Parliament are currently discussing. This bill will empower people on the spectrum, plus we are awaiting with great enthusiasm the realisation of a council who will concentrate on promoting the needs of this condition on a national basis.

All these actions will help us attain, more “Respect, Acceptance and Inclusion”.

I would like to conclude with our motto, Help Us Help You !! All the very best.

APA the journey through the years Twenty years ago Autism was not much heard of in Malta and was associated with the severe type of Autism which would only be diagnosed if there was a severe regression in the development of a child. Many children remained undiagnosed and were mostly labelled as mischievous and punished for their actions. Parents passed through many hardships to identify that the behaviour their child was portraying was not mischief and struggled to find professionals who were specialised in Autism who could assist them. The therapy and services required for their child was limited and most parents opted to travel to UK for treatment. It was at that time that a couple of parents got together to form part of the National Parents Society of Persons with Disability and an Autism Focus Group was created. In 2005 a number of support meetings were organised for children diagnosed with traits of Autism, typical Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and other related conditions. The attendance was increasing meeting after meeting and the leaders of the group started shedding awareness through the media. Meetings with governing bodies and other NGOs were organised as a plea to start including Autism as a priority on their agenda. In 2008 it was decided that Autism merited its very own NGO on a national basis to create awareness, provide support to parents and to work towards the betterment of the quality of life of the children and parents battling with this condition. The Autism Parents Association (APA) was set up and a number of committee members joined to support APA’s mission. Today APA prides to have a strong committee working hard to put Autism on the forefront on the agenda of Policymakers and parents have their mind at rest that the team is working wholeheartedly to close any gaps in services. The road is long but a bright tunnel is ahead of us. We are thankful for all the NGOs, governing bodies, companies, educators, therapists and professionals who have collaborated with the committee through the years.

Meet the 2015 Committee

In addition to the Committee it is an honour to have Mrs Michelle Muscat wife of the Prime Minister of Malta as APA’s Honorary Chairperson since March 2013.

An overview of the year Light It Up Blue Event . 2nd April Marks World Autism Day. Mrs Michelle Muscat the wife of the Prime Minister of Malta, in her role as chairperson




Foundation organised the 2nd Light It Up Blue Event to join the rest of the world to support people on the Autism Spectrum and their families. Whilst in April 2014, the Office of the Prime Minister was lit up blue, in April 2015, the Mediterranean Conference Centre was the landmark joining the the rest of the world in this campaign. A fundraising dinner was later hosted by Mrs Michelle Muscat and part of the proceeds were donated to APA to cover the costs of Autism-Europe Membership.

Autism Walk The 2nd Autism Walk for Autism held in April 2015 from Qui-Si Sana to the Love Sign in Spinola.

Funday The 3rd Annual Funday for Autism held at Attard Primary School in April 2015.

Summer Barbeque The 1st Annual Barbeque was held at Buccaneers in Marsascala in August 2015.

Christmas Party

A Christmas Party was held on the 27th December 2015 at Montekristo Foyer for kids up to the age of 12. The turnout was rather good since 54 kids attended. Catering included Gluten Free food to cater for the diverse diets some of our children follow and APA distributed a box with giveaways for the kids. Animators and a Father Christmas kept the Children entertained whilst the parents enjoyed a coffee.

Donation of tablets – Care Malta A number of tablets were kindly donated by Care Malta. They specifically requested that the tablets are given directly to the children with Autism. A meeting with ACTU was held hoping to obtain a list of children who may benefit from these tablets especially if they are coming from vulnerable families. Due to Data Protection, this was not possible. It was suggested to donate a few to other NGOs working with persons with Autism and which depend on fund raising. Some tablets may be retained by APA to be used during events and maybe also by the committee during meetings. The committee is opening the possibility for the members to nominate fellow parents who may benefit from these tablets.

Education Division A number of complaints were received from parents regarding the delay for the assignment of the LSA before the new scholastic year. This was actioned immediately by the Director General of the Education Division. Although some schools have followed this instruction, it is evident that others have ignored the directive.

Summer School The Committee were in discussions with the Foundation for Educational Services to identify a solution regarding the level of the learning support assistant service provided during the Summer. A number of complaints were received primarily for the delay to effect such service and secondly as most LSAs had close to no experience in dealing with their children.

Ministry of Family and Social Solidarity Disability Allowance Board APA has been in contact with the Ministry regarding the eligibility of the Child Disability Allowance. APA was party to the recommendation of the individuals to make up the new Board to ascertain that they are qualified and knowledgeable professionals in the area of Autism. http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150806/local/specialists-in-autism-appointed.579467

The Bill for Autism APA was involved in the working group to develop the new Bill on Autism. This new Act promotes the empowerment of individuals on the Autism Spectrum. This was led by Min Justyne Caruana, Chariperson of KNPD Oliver Scicluna, Dr. Jimmy Farrugia, Dr Elena Tanti Burlo and Mauro Farrugia from the FWS. The bill is to pass through parliament shortly. http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2015-12-06/newspaper-opinions/Obstructionism-no-help-for-thedisabled-6736149972


The committee maintain good relations with the Chairperson of KNPD. Various topics are discussed relating to the rights of persons with Autism where it involves education, independent living, employment and social security benefits above all.

Nationalist Party Meeting

A meeting with held at the Nationalist Party Head Quarters on 5th November. The committee members met with MEP Therese Comodini Cachia. Ms Comodini Cachia explained the importance of keeping the Opposition informed on any plans of APA and any matters which the committee is encountering difficulties to resolve. She explained that parliamentary questions will be lodged in Parliament to assist in speeding up outstanding maters. A list of recommendations was forwarded earlier this year.

Karl Vella Foundation

The Karl Vella Foundation reached out to APA informing them that they have commenced offering services of HW help to siblings of APA members.

14+ Youth Club

A meeting was held on the 20th February 2016 for parents and youths aged 14 and over. The intention was to identify the needs of these members to set reachable goals was achieved. The meeting was well attended and a messenger group was created to continue discussions. The next meeting will address the services available for adults and to attempt to invite Agenzija Sapport and Hon. Justyne Caruana to inform the parents on services available and future projects.

Public Relations Report PR stands for Public Relations, or the relationships you have with your public. It is about how you relate to them and what they think about you. It’s about sending positive messages to the parents and awareness to the society. PR is also about boosting and maintaining the associations profile or maximizing its impact. Every day, we ourselves do PR with people around us by word of mouth. Spreading the word about Autism to a friend, relative or neighbor. But we cannot always talk to everyone we'd like. So we ask the media to help out and use the social network Facebook (the Autism Parents Association Support Group, APA Master Facebook page and website. Social networks are an interactive way of communicating, and sharing content and useful resources with each other. Days of one way communication are gone. It is done by people for people. By parents for parents and other carers, the audience is no longer passive but active! Getting the opportunity to building stronger support and at the same time increasing your visibility. During this past year the Autism Parents Association sought to cultivate public awareness, support and involvement in their activities. Though several means of media, the Autism Parents Association was able to raise awareness and distribute the knowledge about the Autism condition and the APA organized activities amongst the society. During this past year the following APA appearances were affected to raise awareness for Autism:-






TV Discussion - Eli & I




TV Discussion - Niskata




TV Discussion - Malta Llejla





Marigold Foundation w/ APA

Committee of APA


TV Discussion - Dak li Jghodd

One Productions


TV Discussion - Program Dizabilta

One Productions

Valerie Valerie w/ Marthese Mugliette of Downs Sydrome Association


School Awareness Talk – B’Bugia Primary Year 5 students

Birzebbugia Primary School



Meeting with Dr. Miriam Dalli MEP

Dr. Dalli's office - Zebbug

Valerie and Omar


Bjorn, a youth with Autism telling his experience

Talk for Living Diversity group of students at Sta. Lucia Secondary School

Bjorn and Petra


Autism Awareness Talk, A Parent's Perspective

Talk for Living Diversity group of students at Sta. Lucia Secondary School



Appearance with Malta Service Dog Foundation




Meeting with P. Sec of Hons Dr. Michael Farrugia re: Medical Board

Ministry of Family & Social Solidarity

Valerie & Omar


Mente Presentation with MEDE

Education Department

Omar & Valerie


Meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna


Omar, Giselle, Carmen


Meeting with FSWS re: Training Course for Support workers

FSWS Head Office - Sta. Venera

Omar & Valerie




Gvern Li Jisma - Minister Hons Dr. Michael Farrugia & Hons. Dr. Justyn Caruana

Hilltop Home



Meeting with Director of Student Services

Student Service DeptHamrun

Omar & Valerie


Seminar on Disability Issues NGO Consultation @ db Seabank Hotel

Parliamentary Secretariat for Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing

Valerie, Sandra & Carmen


Visit with the president of Malta Her Excellency Marie Louise Coleiro

San Anton Palace

Committee of APA

9, 10, 11/07/2015

Let Me Learn Conference

Victoria Palace


Miriam Albatool School

Sandra w/ Juan Camilleri


In-Service Course Continued discussions with Minister Dr. Michael Farrugia re: Medical Board of Disability Allowance

Ministry of Family & Social Solidarity

Omar & Valerie


Meeting with Director of Student Services

Student Service DeptHamrun

Omar & Valerie


Parents Discussion Meeting

The Kitchen Garden

Committee of APA

B' Bugia Local Council

Omar & Valerie

Ministry of Family & Social Solidarity

Omar & Valerie

One Productions




Meeting with B' Bugia Local Council Continued discussions with Minister Dr. Michael Farrugia re: Medical Board of Disability Allowance


TV Discussion - Aroma Mattina









Synergy Pilot Project on Challenging Behaviour

Inspire Learning Hub

Valerie & Maruska


TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.




Back To School - Coping Strategies

Iklin Parish Church Hall

In collaboration with Hand in Hand Malta and Mrs. Connie Magro


TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.




Siegha Zmien

One Productions

Omar & Valerie


TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.




TV Discussion - Newsfeed


Valerie w/ Claudia Kirby Balzan & Inspire's Adrian Huber


Telephone Interview – TVAM


Valerie w/ KNPD's Oliver Scicluna


Article 19 UNCRPD Conference




Meeting with CareMalta on new residential home in Mosta

CareMalta office - Mosta

Sandra & Valerie


TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.




TV Discussion – Xift


Valerie w/ Dr. Rita Micallef


Valerie w/ Dr. Rita Micallef & Doreen Mercieca


TV Discussion - 12 to 3


TV Discussion – Arena

One Productions

Valerie w/Oliver Scicluna (KNPD) & Anna Calleja (SO)


Press Conference Re:- Autism State Plan

Ministry of Family & Social Solidarity

Valerie w/Hons. Dr. Justyn Caruana





3, 4, 5/12/2015

VO Conference

Victoria Palace Hotel

Omar, Brian, Valerie


TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.




TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.




Cinema Day

Gallerija Fgura

Omar & Giselle


TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.


Campus FM 103.7

Valerie w/parent of ADHD child and Oliver Scicluna (KNPD)

San Anton Palace

Sandra, Omar & Valerie


Radio Discussion - Campus FM Disability Forum Presidents' Foundation for Social Wellbeing


Awareness talk for Homestart Volunteers

Agenzija Appogg



Opening Ceremony of Learning Hub

Learning Hub Ghajnsielem GOZO

Joanne & Valerie


Awareness talk for Fortini Resource Centre

Fortini Resource Centre Birgu



Inspire meeting with CEO of Inspire

Inspire - Bulebel

Valerie & Omar


Awareness talk for Homestart Volunteers

Agenzija Appogg



Meeting w/St. Jeanne Antide Foundation

St. Jeanne Antide

Sandra, Omar & Valerie


TV Discussion - Lifestyle & Co.




Youth Parents Meeting

MCVS Centre

Sandra, Omar & Valerie


Autism Workshop - Girl Guide Leaders

San Antonio Hotel Bugibba



Autism Awareness Talk Mother & Baby Group




Projects today and tomorrow Small Initiatives Grant Autism from young and beyond The Autism Parents Association (APA) has been awarded a grant under the Small Initiative Scheme in 2016 to develop a handbook to be handed to parent members upon their child’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Over the years a number of parents sought the assistance of APA for guidance as to how to handle their child with Autism and to enquire what is available in Malta with regards to therapy and social services amongst others. The committee therefore identified the need to develop the handbook which will provide parents with an overview of Autism, guidance on how to cope in the early years, the services offered locally and the benefits one can avail from. The handbook will also include a record keeping section where important reports and other important medical and educational information may be stored for future reference. The handbook will be developed by parents for parents. The information will also be available digitally.

VOP – in partnership with St. Jeanne Antide Foundation

APA has agreed to partner with St. Jeanne Antide Foundation under the Voluntary Organisation Programme (“VOP”). If the grant is awarded, APA would benefit from the services of a Family Literacy specialist, a Psychiatric Nurse, use of premises and avail from the service of a secretary.

This would serve as a pilot project for APA to identify the need to have premises to support the well-being of families with children with Autism. If a space is allocated to store documents and resources, it would allow APA to have a centralised area and ensure continuity and not dependence on individuals.

It will also educate the committee to work together as a team and structure the different roles within the committee of APA.

In addition this project will allow APA to structure the 14+ youth club. Our youths at times end up socially segregated and we intend organising outings where we can help them integrate in society or invite youths from other NGOs to mix with our youths. We believe that lack of knowledge and experience being around with people with Autism result in either being made fun of or simply excluded from the crowd. This results in our youths ending up at home socializing with their PC and console games. We could have these sessions either on the premises or in the form of outings. Also we would like to engage university students who would like to obtain experience in this area. We would require a psychologist or qualified youth workers with an interest in Autism to lead the sessions.

Financial Report

Autism Parents Association Income and Expenditure For the year ending 31 December 2015

Income Memberships & Fund Raising



2,436.49 €

Total income


Expenses Autism Europe











Autism month 2015


Christmas 2014


Christmas 2015


Total expenses


Surplus/(deficit) for the year


Opening Surplus as at 1 Jan 2015


Closing Surplus 31 Dec 2015


Autism-Europe Membership Autism-Europe is an umbrella organisation that ensures effective liaison among 80 member associations of parents of persons with autism in 30 European countries, including 24 Member States of the European Union, governments and European and international institutions. AE plays a key role in raising public awareness and in influencing the European decision-makers on all issues relating to autism, including the promotion of the rights of people with autism.

Autism-Europe promotes a shift in values away from the traditional, “medical” perspective on disability (in which people with disabilities are seen as objects in need of charity and assistance) towards a rights-based “social” understanding of disability (that considers people with disabilities as active subjects with rights and not passive objects of assistance).

This means that Autism-Europe considers that people with autism don't face barriers and discrimination as a result of their disability, but instead as a result of failures of our society to meet their needs. This includes failing to provide people with autism with access to high quality support services and facilities ensuring early, life-long, effective education, vocational training, re-habilitation and health programmes. These failures prevent them from having access to work, leisure, sport and cultural activities, and ultimately from developing to their full human potential.

Autism-Europe’s statutory mission is to improve the quality of life of all persons with autism and their families in the European Union.

In 1999, Autism-Europe's members identified the following strategic objectives as our priorities:

Representing people towards all European Union's institutions;

Promoting the rights and dignity of people with autism;


Promoting awareness on the appropriate care, education, and well-being of people with autism;


Liaising with other non-governmental organisations sharing similar objectives;


Promoting the exchange of information, good practices and experience.

APA are now full members of Autism Europe and form part of the council with full voting rights (200 points). One of the requirements is that in May every year the APA representative must attend a conference. It was decided that Mr Omar Farrugia is the spokesperson for APA since the Policy states that any communications between the council and the members is directed solely to one person. From the very first meeting, we are proud to note that APA has already contributed towards the council since Mr Farrugia proposed that an online forum is created to share information between members and he also mentioned the activities APA organise locally like targeting grandparents, sibling psychology, sensory friendly movies amongst others - which were all very well received by the other members.

Social Media - Website

Social Media – APA Facebook Page

Social Media – Closed Facebook Page

Social Media – Twitter

Election of the new committee Omar is a father of 3 children, one of who is on the Spectrum. Omar has held the role of President since 2013 and has successfully maintained the mission of APA. As an Online Sales Director by profession, Omar has used his exceptional skills to keep APA on the very top of Social Media and worked wholeheartedly to push APA onto the very top of the Agenda of Policymakers. He is leading the team with integrity and dedication.

Valerie is a mother of 3 children on the Spectrum and needs no introductions. Valerie is now established in her role as Public Relations Officer in APA and has contributed considerably to pushing APA reach the exposure it has today. She leads the coordination of events, contributes substantially in meetings with government officials and supports parents on a daily basis either through face to face meetings or via the closed Facebook page.

Brian is a father of 2 children on the Spectrum. Brian a qualified accountant by profession held the role of Treasurer for APA since 2010. Brian is responsible for maintaining records of all income and expenditure and contributes towards the finance side of projects.

Sandra is a mother of 2 children one of who is a 15 year old youth on the Spectrum. Sandra is the founder of APA and held the position of President from 2008 to 2013. Sandra is an Insurance and Compliance Manager and she oversees professionalism in the operations of APA. She is currently responsible for the management of projects and the development of the 14+ youth group. Sandra brings to the committee a wealth of knowledge through an Autism Certification from University of Birmingham.

Emma is a mother of a 7 year old boy on the spectrum. Emma is a fulltime house wife with lots of energy to give away. Emma is a new member and will take the role of Secretary for the forthcoming year. Her duties will be maintaining minutes of committee meetings, book keeping, e-marketing and coordinating the Annual General Meeting.

Svetlana is a mother 2 girls one of who is a 6 year old on the spectrum. Svetlana runs her own hairdressing salon and brings along a can do attitude to APA. During this year since joining APA she has assisted in a number of initiatives being mainly event coordination and fundraising activities.

Carmen is a mother of 2 children one of who is a 7 year old girl on the spectrum. Carmen is a fulltime house wife and during this year she has assisted APA in a number of initiatives being mainly event coordination, fundraising activities, and making herself available to help out on day to day assistance required by the committee.


Tanya is a mother of a 3 boys the youngest on the spectrum. Tanya is a new member in the committee and she brings along a vast array of experience in branding and marketing. She will be taking the role of a marketing coordinator and therefore look out for our fresh imagery.

Maruska is a mother of 3 children, one of who is on the Spectrum. Maruska joined APA in May 2015 and she is an Early Intervention Practitioner by Profession. Maruska is a humble person willing to contribute wholeheartedly to APA and she is currently assisting Sandra on projects and the coordination of the Newsletter.

Marica is a mother of a youth on the Spectrum. Marica contributed to APA since 2010 and has researched biomedics and diets primarily for her son but also kept the committee members abreast in the area. Marica returns to the committee after a 2 year break as a parent support aide and will be coordinating the 14+ youth group together with Sandra and Valerie.

Pauline is a mother of 3 children, one of who is a 14 year old youth on the Spectrum. Pauline joined APA in May 2015 and assists APA in events and fundraising activities.

Jane is a mother of 2 children, one of who is a boy on the Spectrum. Jane joined APA in 2011 and held the role of Secretary from 20132014. Jane an English Teacher by profession coordinated the publishing of the Newsletter and holding of minutes. For the forthcoming year she will be handing over her role as secretary to the new members and will keep herself available to help out should the need arise.

New Structure of the Committee Mr Omar Farrugia President



Public Relations


Mr Brian Ferrante


Mrs Valerie Brincat

Mrs Emma McEwen

Treasurer / EU Funds

Mrs Sandra Borg


Secretary / Admin

Projects Manager Mrs Maruska Dimech

Conference & Events

Assistant Project Co-ordinator

Minutes Book keeping

Mrs Svetlana Sammut



Mrs Carmen Abela


Mrs Tanya Bezzina

Parent Support Agents

Marketing Co-ordinator

Mrs Jane Bruno Mrs Sandra Borg


Mrs Maruska Dimech Newsletter Co-ordinator

Youth Groups

Mrs Sandra Borg Mrs Valerie Brincat Mrs Marica Saliba Mrs Pauline Ciappara

Mrs Marica Saliba

Gozo Support

Mrs Joanne Sciberras Gozo Co-ordinator


Thank You

Autism Parents Association Annual General Meeting 2016 Guardian Angel Resource Centre, Hamrun

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