January 28, 2019
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Participants at a training organised by Autism Voice Sierra Leone, have called for more awareness and education to improve the knowledge and understanding about the condition among professionals working with young people.
During the training at the Sierra Leone National School for the Deaf and Dumb in Freetown, they stated that discussions around autism was new to many people, which was why more education and awareness raising across the country was highly necessary.
Head teacher of Murraydeen Preparatory School, Mrs. Letitia Harding stated: “We have lots of disorder connected to autism in our communities which people know nothing about. I think there is need to replicate this training in other parts of the country.”
She commended the organisation for taking the bold step to educate and sensitise professionals on autism and urged them to continue.
Teacher, Mark Kargbo emphasised the need to better people’s knowledge and understanding about autism so that teachers will be able to identify and support those living with the condition in schools and communities. He commended the organization for the training and noted that the spiritual aspect of autism should not be totally ruled out.
“I am a bit confused on this issue. This is the first time I am hearing about autism,” Mr Kargbo said.
Participant Esther Conteh said she believed that there were people with autism in the country.
“I see potential in those living with autism. I want the organisation to continue sensitising the public on this issue,” she said and added that with such engagement, the perception and treatment of those with autism will change for the better.
Co-Founder of Autism Voice Sierra Leone, Mariama Korrca Kandeh, agreed on the need for more autism education and awareness to improve knowledge and understanding about the condition.
She assured that her organisation will continue to engage communities so that those with autism can be respected, loved and cared for by all.
“Please, I want you all to know that autistic people are not fools, neither are they witch, nor having evil spirit. They deserve to be loved, respected and treated equally as other children in society,” Kandeh said.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is the name for a range of similar conditions that affect a person’s social interaction, communication, interests and behavior. Many autistic people have difficulty processing sensory information relating to taste, smell, sound, sight, body awareness and balance.