By: Amara Kargbo
Autism Sierra Leone Council in partnership with Statistics Sierra Leone has held a joint meeting as well as the launching of Zoom Autism Magazine, a strategy that intends to popularize the concept of Autism in learning institutions and beyond in the country.
John Koroma Founder and Executive Director of Stop It Sierra Leone, a nonprofit making organization working with women, children and youth across the country mentioned that they are operating on three priorities areas including education, health and Autism.
The executive director unfolds the concept of Autism that it is a developmental disability that affects the brain functions of an individuals with autism often find social interaction to be difficult or near impossible that have problems both non-verbal and verbal communication that affects male and female of all races in all parts of the world.
He noted that, with such disability in Sierra Leone, these people have face a lot of discrimination in communities, homes, workplaces, educational centres who often referred as slurring comments or attacks as “Aflahun, Fool-fool or Children of the witch or evil.”
The above affected people were most times denied their full fundamental human rights or condemned to cruel and untimely deaths throwing them to wild bushes and eaten by wild snakes or animals believing that they have return to their world, or locked-up in isolated rooms and prevented to play, interact or go outside until they grow old and die.
Noting that, until “Stop it Sierra Leone,” established the Autism Sierra Leone Council in 2017 in partnership with some stakeholders, sanitization strategy is gradually changing the old story about autism being a mystical problem rather scientific and can be improved, and today there are more acceptances for person with autism than before.
Director Koroma further this medium that in 2018 the organization adopted a resolution to increase a massive awareness of autism in the country by establishing the “ZOOM AUTISM MAGAZINE,” an initiative that was brought out of a research that the sensitization could yield better results if the organization establish an official media to advocate autism concerns in Sierra Leone.
Samuel Ansumana, Director Of Communication and Public Relations, Stats SL, on the launching of the Zoom Autism Magazine Making a statement on behalf of his boss, the Statistician General, Prof Osman Sankoh, he however said that statistics shows that autism is a major health concern experienced by many all around the world. The neurological condition is a disorder that is most commonly found in children and sometimes continues to affect them as they grow.
Director Ansumana described that autism is a neurological condition that impedes the rate at which a person learns and affects the way they communicate and interact with other people, the autism statistics indicates that 1 in 59 children has autism.
He further referenced that the continents of Europe, North America, and Asia were reported to have an average prevalence rate between 1% and 2% and the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) generally appears before children hit 3 years.
On average, autism costs families about $60,000 annually.
The cost of having to educate a child with autism costs an extra $8,600 each year.
Around 1% of the world’s population has autism, and 9% of the adults affected by autism are married. Hence, the cost of lifelong care for those who have autism can be reduced by 66% with an early diagnosis.
However, because of the traditional notions associated with autism in Sierra Leone, Statistics SL appreciated the launching of Zoom Autism magazine, which once it is fully operational will be able to bring to the limelight and demystify all the common myths almost all of us at some point had held about people who are autistic.
“I am pleased to informed this gathering that we are statistics will be dedicated to this course and in future hope to conduct some survey to understand how prevalent Autism is in Sierra Leone, autism can be cured with the right treatment so I’ll say to all of us here today, lets galvanize to stop it”