By: Korey Taylor
Imagine you are a parent of a child just diagnosed with autism; what is the first thing you will probably do? Now, I’ve never been in those shoes, but my best guess is spend countless hours researching “Autism” and what your options are to make sure your child has the best outcome possible. There may be resources on what Autism Spectrum Disorder is or the countless style of therapies that are out there to support your family. The school in your district will surely have a special education classroom or there may even be a center near you that specializes in providing your child with one-on-one services in Applied Behavior Analysis. What I’m saying is, in America, you have options. Now imagine you are a parent in Africa. Your child is “different” from the peers around them. What are your options? Unfortunately there is a stigma against children with developmental disabilities and many go undiagnosed from a lack of understanding and a lack of resources. Even if your child is diagnosed, there may be little to no options in your community to support you. Regardless of your location, one thing every parent will find in their endless google search about Autism is that Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, can provide some of the best outcomes for your child. Specialists in the field, Board Certified Behavior Analysts or BCBAs, spend countless hours of supervision and education to provide resources, parent trainings, education, and unparalleled support as you transition into your life as a parent with a “kid on the spectrum”. In America there are around 32,000 BCBAs to help support families; in Africa there are 18. Yes, you read that right, eighteen. This is where the Global Autism Project and the Kaizora Institute in Kenya are working together to dispel myths and educate the community. What I’ve witnessed at Kaizora in my short time volunteering is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The passion shown by the teachers and clinicians here is unmatched by their American counterparts. There is a seamless collaboration between four different specializations: ABA, Occupational Therapy, Speech, and Special Education to create a conducive environment for success. Without their dedication and the support of the Global Autism Project over these last 9 years, this kind of progress in Kenya would not have been possible. I am humbled by this experience and my hope is to give back to them as much as they have already given to me.