Statistics have shown today 1 in 68 children has been diagnosed with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) . Most People are not even aware they have autistic children and in extreme cases in Rural areas these children are locked away and shut out completely from the community as well. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.
Before scientist believed Autism was a condition limited to western and technologically developed countries however there are more cases of children living with Autism in Africa. In some cultures symptoms related to autism seems normal or supernatural related and therefore these children do not get any care.
Early Intervention, diagnosis and treatment are some of the main elements to help an autistic child develop to their full potential. In the beginning Autism can be very difficult and this is the time as a parent you can learn as much as you can about treatments, medications and how to improve your Child’s communication and social behaviour.
Some of the possible reasons why cases of Autism in Africa are non verbal is due to difficulty in finding services even with a diagnosis given,mental health care facilities and trained personnel to work with autistic children are a few. Educational and behavioral interventions for children with autism are largely unavailable as well.We also don’t have enough social groups, awareness centres and People to educate the community about Autism. These are just some of the many challenges communities and Africa at large face.
African Governments should strive to create more Autism centres especially in the Rural areas to give care and support to children living with autism as well as providing Information and resources to families affected and living with Autistic Children. Affordable Educational centres for these children should be set so people living below the poverty line can still access services for their children. Raising an autistic child can take an emotional Toll on a Parent therefore Strong Social Networks should be formed within the communities for parents to be able to meet,discuss and gain support from people who understand what they are going through. These groups can be very helpful in case of any Emergency situations as well.
Autism in Africa if not addressed more children especially from rural areas will continue to grow without proper Education , help and care. People should also take personal Initiative to Educate people and make them aware of what Autism is. Only together can we help these children live a normal life and help them be independent, successful people in the society.