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New York — Vincentian-born Rosanne Small-Morgan is making strides on her mission to bring more awareness and understanding about the life-changing issue of autism within minority and Caribbean communities.

Over the past few years, Small-Morgan, who is a radio host, newspaper columnist, consumer advocate, comedienne, wife and mother, overcame several life challenges and is now a well-known advocate for autism.

Small-Morgan, who is affectionately referred to as “Rosie”, continues to progress on her journey to share information on this topic of universal relevance as well as to provide support to families with autistic children.

From a personal perspective, Small-Morgan’s journey was fuelled by her experience with her 12-year-old son, Zane, who is autistic. “Even though he’s quite high functioning and smart, it has been an uphill battle and fight to get him assimilated in the society around us. I also found that there weren’t many people in my Caribbean community who were talking openly and candidly regarding their trials re: Autism,” Small-Morgan said.

The journey continued with her sharing her family’s escapades with Zane, his pitfalls and triumphs via blogging. This led to other mothers and households revealing their stories about their own experiences with autism. This blogging initiative along with Rosie’s authentic passion for speaking on the topic encouraged several Caribbean mothers to contact her regarding their trials and even motivated some to start their own support groups to benefit families.

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Small-Morgan is now a noted and in-demand speaker on autism. She has graced several forums in North America and the Caribbean, such as the Vincy Cares Awards dinner in New York and the annual Karen Hind’s Phenomenal Woman’s Conference in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In order to impart information on autism, during her speaking engagements, Small-Morgan utilises her talent for storytelling and stand-up comedy as her general approach.

“I think I can help bring more of a spotlight and understanding through my comedic type talks/lectures and helpful, personal tips about autism and give feedback to the audience on how our family handled particular challenges,” she commented.

Even amidst writing a book on autism that will be released soon, and with aspirations of working along with special needs schools, education departments, churches, rotary clubs, the special olympics, any other organisation that supports autism or special needs, Small-Morgan remains determined to make the topic less taboo in the Caribbean.

“My hope is that my presentations will open up the dialogue for several people to come forward and either seek assistance or start support groups throughout our islands and the diaspora as a whole,” she said.

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