Autism Awareness Gets a Boost from Global Autism Project
While autism awareness has grown tremendously in the U.S. in recent years, the same does not always hold true for other countries. Autism does not respect borders; it is a global issue that affects millions of people worldwide. One estimate suggests that 67 million people worldwide are affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
And unfortunately, in some developing countries, people with autism are not well understood. They are subjected to social stigma, and relatives often keep them hidden away in dark rooms. Children with autism are often believed to be possessed by evil spirits because of the sins of the parents. Even worse, many doctors in countries such as Ethiopia have never even heard of ASD. If a child does have the luck to receive an official diagnosis, he might have to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles before reaching the nearest clinic that is capable of treating autism.
Raising Autism Awareness
Now, autism awareness in other countries is getting a boost from a volunteer program backed by the Global Autism Project. Molly Ola Pinney founded the nonprofit organization nine years ago. Her mission is to raise autism awareness around the world and to provide resources to those in need. The Global Autism Project focuses on outreach, education, and training. To that end, the Global Autism Project has announced an initiative to recruit volunteers to travel to other countries and work with local educators. Volunteer programs are also available in the U.S.
What the Program Does
The Global Autism Project currently has programs in Ghana, Peru, Kenya, India, and the U.S. There are three different volunteer programs. The high school immersion program accepts eight high school students for each trip. Students enjoy a mix of providing hands-on support for educational activities, as well as participating in cultural excursions. A student program can last for two weeks to one month.
SkillCorps is the volunteer program for speech-language pathologists (SLP) and other professionals. These volunteers commit to a program of two weeks to one month in India, Kenya, or Peru. They provide training to local staff in applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA is a system of techniques that are often used to help build skills in children or adults with autism. The educational initiative also raises autism awareness in the target countries. As well, these volunteers may work directly with children in the program.
The Global Autism Project also has a volunteer program for those who are at least 18 years old, but do not necessarily have professional training in the field. These volunteers may work in India, Kenya, Peru, or the U.S. The program is two weeks to one month. These volunteers provide hands-on assistance and administrative support for the programs in the target countries.
How You Can Volunteer
If you are interested in volunteering for any of the three programs, fill out the application on the Global Autism Project’s website. The website also lists upcoming dates for programs, along with applicable fees to cover travel and expenses.