Support resources for children with autism are very limited in the Dakar region of Senegal. Thanks to recent work, autism awareness is rising within this area. Therapies run by certified professionals are still rare to nonexistent. We are working towards establishing a running day center supervised by certified BCBAs (behavior analysts) and educational specialists. This helps the children improve their social, language, and daily living skills in addition to academics.
In Senegal, there is less than 1 mental health professional per 100,000 people (WHO). Due to a lack of professional and educational resources, individuals with autism are often given ineffective or even harmful treatment, which can severely affect their development and quality of life. Many children with autism are kept at home and do not attend school due to stigma and lack of resources. This project aims to provide opportunities for daily therapy for children in Dakar.
Our center will endeavor to provide much-needed daily therapy for children with autism within our local area. Our method will utilize Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods and will be completely individualized to the child to boost their social, language, daily living, and academic skills. Children will benefit from a combination of 1-1 sessions and group activities, as well as supported integration into local schools if possible. All programs will include weekly skills training for parents.
Long-term therapy for students and regular training for families will greatly increase the quality of life of all involved and promote the values of respect and dignity for those with special needs. This therapy will promote the development of daily functioning, relieving some of the burden of future care for families. We will hire individuals who seek professional certification themselves and work with local schools and centers to provide training for the inclusion of students with autism.