Playing a part to the harmonious development for burkinabè autistic children.
by Anastasie Obi
Somewhere in West Africa, there is a region characterized by the particular kindness of its inhabitants. A people so little ill-intended that even the crocodiles in the Bazoulè village, not far from the capital, live amongst them for centuries without ever attacking them. Not even once. A country that inherited its improvement and integrity willpower from the bravery of its historical figureheads. It's called Burkina Faso. Even now, the Burkinabè are still inspired by this impetus to hardly but surely spur its development. Although regarding mineral, natural and agricultural resources this country is one of the most important in the world, it’s still one of the poorest. Its resources mainly contributed to the development of Western countries as for all rich former colonies. This has probably helped to make laborious the setting up of an environment conducive to the evolvement and development of children with disorders that expose the obscurantism of their society, such as autism.
Burkinabè's understanding of autism is strongly related to their culture, based largely on "magical-religious" beliefs. For instance, some say that a child is born autistic because its mother didn’t respect the rituals during her pregnancy. She washed inter alia after 8:00 pm, exposing herself to jinn and other evil spirits. This analogy between autistic children and jinn stigmatizes them within society. A stigma that explains why some parents tie their children at home, so that nobody knows they have one. This disorder is barely known as a disease in this region, which has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Then it’s a huge issue to integrate these children into the education system in this country. Nevertheless living up to their reputation exemplifying their revolution willpower, increasingly Burkinabè parents are orienting their children for care to some few institutions that are established. Concrete steps that foster the integration and inclusion of these stigmatized children are led by deeply committed local organizations. Among them, the NGO ABAPE’s autistic center, located in Ouagadougou.
This center takes in children diagnosed with autism from 2 to 5 years, who are in kindergarten. It also supports those aged 7 to 13 who cannot enter a standard school due to the severity of their behavioural disorders. They thus provide psycho-educational, socio-educational and learning care. Since they don’t have standard schools where they can integrate these children, they have built a partnership with a private school and trained an AVS's (School Aids) to monitor the children. They also benefit from the expertise of institutions such as PSF (Psychomotricité Sans Frontière) and ODM (Orthophonistes Du Monde), for the capacity building of the center, whose team is made up of psychologists, instructors and volunteers. Like all local non-profit organizations, ABAPE faces huge difficulties that limit access to such initiatives to far too many children, whose over 90% are from very poor families. This requires resources mobilization that isn’t unfortunately just financial regarding the care of these children. The country lacks specialists. Even in the medical profession, the resources to diagnose autistic children are limited
The country doesn’t lack resources or opportunities for anyone who would like to play a part to improving the development tools of initiatives such as the ABAPE center. Maybe a genius, who will actively contribute in the overdevelopment of his country, will emerge among these special children. It’s enough to know that last year alone, the both smartest students at the second level of elementary school class, in the partner private school mentioned above, were children from the ABAPE center. They have been enrolled in standard schools this year. You may not even picture the joy and pride of their family. This shows that they are not working for nothing and comfort them in their actions. Actions they hope that the results will promote their program to benefit to more children with autism. You can take a first step by contacting Mr. Boukari Pamtaba, Promoter of the ABAPE center and psychologist. He will be in the best position to let you know how you can play a part in the improvement effort by supporting Burkinabè autistic children.
Contact M. Boukari: mail : [email protected], phone : (+226) 76561123