Raising Awareness for AutismThe U.S. continues to successfully diagnose countless cases of autism in hopes of helping children with autism. However, developing countries have been far less successful in addressing autism. In many parts of the underdeveloped world, countless children remain undiagnosed and are kept hidden away from society. Many developing countries associate a negative stigma with autism. In some countries, such as Pakistan, autism is relatively unheard of. These factors all contribute to the lack of addressing the prevalence of autism in these countries.

The importance of raising awareness for autism in developing countries is clear. According to professionals, “awareness is the first step and is essential for early diagnosis. Diagnosing autism as early as possible, both in the U.S. and in other countries, can lead to early intervention and treatment that can greatly reduce symptoms for many children and help them make meaningful progress as well as promote independence and improve quality of life.” It is conditions in these countries and the importance of raising awareness for autism that prompted the creation of the Global Autism Project.

The Global Autism Project’s Mission

The Global Autism Project is committed to reducing the disparity of resources in developing countries. The project works to research and treat autism across the world. Its resources are geared towards early intervention. In the U.S., children are typically diagnosed with autism by the age of three, conversely, in developing countries, some children aren’t diagnosed until the age of eight. This project seeks to increase early intervention in developing countries by raising awareness for autism.

Another aspect of the Global Autism Project is to ensure that all children have access to trained professionals. This organization seeks to increase the number of licensed professionals by getting more people board-certified in Behavior Analysis. The world must raise the bar for these professionals. Many countries do not have special needs services, other international services provide subpar training with no further follow-ups. The Global Autism Project desires to create quality level professionals that are capable of aiding children and adults that suffer from autism. The project pairs with various centers and follows up with them for seven years to monitor growth, and to ensure that world-class professionals are being provided in these regions.

The Global Autism Project’s Recent Efforts

The Global Autism Project recently partnered up with The Zeebah Foundation to further its mission. The Zeebah Foundation seeks to address autism in Africa. The foundation paired up with the Global Autism Project to ensure that their staff on the ground would be properly trained to give quality service to children suffering from autism.

Members of the Global Autism Project have recently met up with workers from The Zeebah Foundation stationed in Nigeria. Jessica Miller, a member of the Global Autism Project, has provided her insights into the group’s efforts in Nigeria.

Miller was enthused to see how welcoming and eager the Zeebah staff were. The workers of Zeebah embraced all the insight the Global Autism Project had to share and was eager to implement its suggestions among autistic Nigerian children. After Miller and colleagues observed the Nigerian staff and children for a full day, Miller was able to collaborate with Zeebah to increase communication during group activities, and the collaboration has only continued to increase. After each school day, the Zeebah and Global Autism Project members gather to troubleshoot ideas. To encourage independent thinking amongst Zeebah staff representatives of the Global Autism Project, to push Zeebah members to use their analytical skills to figure out ways to address the problems they have raised.

Through its work with The Zeebah Foundation, the Global Autism Project has been able to carry out its mission by ensuring that Nigeria, and eventually other regions of Africa, will have access to well-trained professionals who know how to help children with autism. Miller is particularly enthusiastic about the Global Autism’s Project experience in Nigeria. Miller recalls a Zeebah staff member commenting, “it’s overwhelming, the goodness of today,” after the first day the two teams spent working together. Miller believes that all members present from both organizations shared a similar feeling. Through the work of the Global Autism Project, aiding other organizations like The Zeebah Foundation, raising awareness for autism in developing countries can be accomplished.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr