Autism in Africa

There is a dearth of autism research on the African continent; this scientific panel session aims to highlight recent research progress addressing this gap. The panel includes scientific presentations from two sub-Saharan African countries, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies and reporting on both urban and rural African populations. Altogether, the findings from these studies highlight the major barriers to appropriate support for families of children with autism in Africa (including the severe shortage of diagnostic and educational services, lack of awareness about autism and its causes, and high levels of stigma), and report on a promising scalable model that can help tackle these problems by training frontline community-based health extension workers. The challenges and opportunities discussed in these presentations apply not just to the countries under study, but have relevance for the entire African continent and low/middle income countries elsewhere. During the panel discussion these common themes will be reviewed and priority areas for future research and opportunities for intervention will be highlighted, in order to facilitate future autism research, advocacy and capacity building efforts.
Thursday, May 15, 2014: 1:30 PM-3:30 PM
Marquis D (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
1:30 PM
Services for Children with Autism and Their Families in Ethiopia: Service Providers' Perspectives
B. Tekola Gebru, Y. Baheretibeb, I. Roth, D. Tilahun, A. Fekadu, C. Hanlon and R. A. Hoekstra
1:55 PM
Perceived Causes of Autism in Rural and Urban Multi-Cultural Context on the Kenyan Coast
J. K. Gona, C. R. Newton, K. Rimba, R. Mapenzi, M. Kihara and A. Abubakar
2:20 PM
Increasing Autism Awareness Among Rural Community-Based Health Extension Workers in Ethiopia: The Health Education and Training+ (HEAT+) Project
R. A. Hoekstra, B. Tekola Gebru, D. Tilahun, A. Fekadu, Y. Baheretibeb, I. Roth, B. Davey and C. Hanlon
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