A new resource centre that will provide services and guidance for persons living with autism has been opened in Accra, with a call on Ghanaians to view autism as a disorder and not a curse from God.Founder and Executive Director of Haven International Ghana, Dr. Genevieve Kumapley, who made the call, underscored the need for Ghanaians to be well informed to understand that autism is a disorder and “not a curse or punishment from God.”
Located off the Spintex Road in Accra, the facility built by Haven International – an organization that seeks to promote the interest of people with autism in Ghana, will provide support to children and parents who need information on autism and other intellectual disabilities.
The centre has doctors, volunteers and other professionals who would readily assist people who walk in. Autism is a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills. It is a lifelong condition that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the US- based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 percent of the world’s population have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Experts say the inability of many persons to be well-versed on the condition has led to the stigmatization of persons with it globally.
This well-equipped Haven International Austism Center will therefore serve as a hub for research, training, and provide answers to persons who need help. The resource center provides access to resources and tools for providers and caregivers of special needs individual.
Tools available include access to books, videos and , playground and other informative materials. Dr. Genevieve Kumapley said the women of Autism Society of Ghana (ASOG) inspired her when she arrived in the country five years ago, adding that as a parent who also has a son with the condition, raising awareness is a priority.
Some affected parents at the launch shared some of their sentiments on autism, including the high cost of managing it in Ghana. They commended Haven International for setting up the facility, which will get a lot of people in the country to be aware of the condition.
The Haven International Austism Center is sited off the Community 18 junction road (Spintex), close to Devtraco.
Established in 2011, Haven International provide services that support the development of professionals; parents and caregivers of individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The organization has since 2012 been holding autism training for teachers in schools, healthcare professionals, parents and caregivers across Ghana.
About 980 individuals have so far benefited from the training program; 60 per cent teachers, 15 per cent healthcare professionals and 25 per cent parents/caregivers.