Globally many autistic children and adults are living difficult lives, denied education, support and acceptance, and often prevented from participating in family and community life. In resource-poor settings in particular, the lack of opportunities for support and education, accompanied by the profound and isolating stigma that can accompany disability, can put individuals and families in intolerable and often dangerous situations.
Pan-African Experiences of Autism Conference, December 2017
For downloading here is the Report from the ‘Pan-African Experiences of Autism’ Conference that Stepping Forward organised in Sierra Leone in December 2017 with partners The British Council and Disability Africa. The event took place at The British Council in Freetown on 4 & 5 December 2017, marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and was extremely well attended – with participation from over 220 parents, carers, teachers, NGOs, health workers and Ministry officials. We are very grateful for the support of The British Council for the venue and for sponsoring guest speakers from Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Many local and international initiatives have resulted from this event. Stepping Forward is working closely with the Sierra Leone Autistic Society to support their education programme, support to families and awareness-raising initiatives.
Dr Bakare from Nigeria reviews current autism research and practice in Africa.
Dr Virginia George, a parent/carer, talks about her experiences of bringing up her 19 year old daughter.
Umu Bentil, above, a parent/carer shares her experiences of prioritising her autistic daughter’s needs against the wishes of her family and community – and the estrangement from some family members that resulted. ‘Hold your child close and don’t let anyone tell you that your child should not be cared for’.
Dr Tsitsi Chataika of the University of Zimbabwe presents on inclusivity and the right to education.