Towards autism awareness, social integration, and accessible services and support for autism in Johannesburg



Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Autism are interchangeable terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. Autism occurs on a spectrum, which means that while all people with autism share the same difficulties, the condition affects each person differently. Some people are severely affected and others can function independently within society. There are three core difficulties of autism which are often referred to as the triad of impairment.

  • Social interaction is challenging because people with autism struggle to understand the emotions and feelings. As a result, social behaviour, such as taking part in conversations, recognizing and understanding emotions, as well as the use of eye contact, body language, gestures and facial expressions are difficult
  • Communication difficulties include limitations in understanding and speaking/expressing oneself
  • Imagination within autism is usually restricted. As a result, people with autism have a preference for routine and often display repetitive behaviours (like spinning objects all the time). Individuals with autism may struggle with changes to their environment or any other form of lifestyle changes.

Sensory issues are also often evident in many individuals with autism. This means the person struggles to process senses such as touch, smell, sight, sound, taste, and even movement. This often impedes everyday functioning (e.g. can’t tolerate the noise of the toilet flushing, or unable to tolerate certain food).

autism is seeing the world differently


  • Promote awareness of the prevalence of autism in Johannesburg with particular focus on under-represented communities
  • Encourage social integration of children and families on the autism spectrum within the context of the community
  • Promote accessible delivery of services and support networks for autism in Johannesburg


light it up blue for autism




In 2015 the first ever autism awareness walk was held at the Johannesburg zoo

  1. 2014The annual Light It Up Blue event was hosted by Autism South Africa (ASA) where the Nelson Mandela Bridge was lit up blue as part of a global initiative, which aims to raise awareness and support for autism. Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s legacy as a champion for equal access to services and education, speech-language therapist and parent, Sumaya Babamia approached ASA with the idea to create greater awareness within previously disadvantaged communities. As a member of both Autism SA and F.E.E.D, a charity that works to feed, empower, educate and develop impeverished communities, there was a natural fit to join hands and pool resources to make this vision a reality.
  2. 2015Fellow speech-language therapist and chair lady of the Caring Women’s Forum (CWF), recognized the need for awareness of disability and access to services within the community, and came on board with the initiative.
  3. 2016Our flagship event, a collaboration between Autism SA, F.E.E.D, and CWF was held. 300 people came out in support of the Autism Awareness Zoo Trot. Soon after the zoo trot a meeting was held inviting members of the collaborating organizations to become part of the planning committee for future autism awareness walks. The objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of the event in raising awareness among more under-represented communities, and to improve upon the practical and logistical aspects of the event.
  4. 2017A core group of ladies from the 3 organizations was established. It was recognized that the vision for the event reached far beyond just creating awareness and that there was a need to develop an identity that could grow as our vision and purpose expanded. And so Jozi 4 Autism was born26 March 2017, almost 1000 people descended upon the Johannesburg Zoo in support of autism awareness. You, our supporters, continue to engage with us on social media, encouraging us to imagine what is possible when we stand together in the fight for the services and support, that every family facing the challenges of autism deserves…


We hope to host a walk for autism awareness every year, growing in numbers year on year, until Johannesburg sits up and takes notice, and hears our collective voices calling for the provision of education, health and therapeutic services for the many families struggling with autism in their communities all on their own. We hope that the spirit of Ubuntu that was felt on 26 March 2017 will continue to permeate to our individual homes, to our families, and eventually to our communities, so that a diagnosis of autism is no longer a sentence of social isolation. Let us rally our support around our families with autism, because we are STRONGER TOGETHER.

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Latest news, information, updates and resources.

The 3rd Annual Autism Awareness Zoo Trot

In 2017, almost 1000 people came out in their tekkies to support our Autism Awareness Zoo Trot. Some schools/families even dressed up as a team with custom-made tees & matching tutus. This is most definitely encouraged and the effort is much appreciated! These folks...

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We are Jozi 4 Autism

In 2014 Autism South Africa (ASA) hosted a Light It Up Blue event for International World Autism Day. In keeping with international trends, prominent public structures are lit up blue, from the Empire State building in New York City, to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Statue of Christ in Brazil, and here in South Africa, our very own Nelson Mandela bridge in Braamfontein and Table Mountain in Cape Town. It was a pity that there were not many people who attended the event, especially as ASA put a lot of effort into planning and hosting the event. Therefore we identified the need to reach more people regarding autism awareness.

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Gate 13, Children’s Memorial Institute
Cnr Joubert Street Ext and Empire Road


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