Autism is only one disability that plagues Iraqi children. The prevalence of autism in the Middle East is higher by far than in other regions of the world. What makes the need for our action in Iraq so crucial is the lack of focus on mental health and disabilities. Years of war have taken their toll most significantly on the children. Our focus is on orphans, children being raised by single mothers, and children living in extreme poverty. Many children need additional educational services.
Many Iraqi parents have no idea that their child has a disability. Mental Health, Intellectual Disabilities, and ADHD are not part of their understanding. They recognize that their child is different, but lack knowledge and understanding, and they have no means of getting their child the help they need. We will provide access to services to help these children be diagnosed, successfully treated, placed in an appropriate educational setting, and provided transportation throughout the process.
We advocate for the rights and interests of children with disabilities and endeavor to ensure that they have access to services appropriate for their needs. We will ensure that children are referred to centers/schools with special programs. We will educate teachers and parents about disabilities bringing earlier intervention. ICHope will also develop programs for children who do not have access to educational services, facilitate support groups, and work with local education and health services.
The long-term impact of this project will be vast and life-changing for children with autism and other disabilities and for their families. It will increase the diagnosis, services, and treatment of children with disabilities. Those children will begin to learn and will develop skills that make their lives richer and more enjoyable. It will bring an understanding of cognitive disabilities to the country of Iraq in general, thus creating a safer and more accepting environment for children.
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