Global Autism: awareness and training

I have always felt strongly about the positive effect edu-media and film can have in terms of increasing awareness. My friend Mo Hefzy wrote and produced the first Arabic film about Autism and this was a positive start in increasing awareness of autism in Africa and the Arab world. When I first moved to NYC, I was somewhat deluded to believe that things would be different and better. After all this is AMERICA! The challenges for Autism in the US are not very different to what I have seen in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Having worked in these countries I am aware that Autism is a global issue. Yes, there are dedicated teams working in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia however we need to pool together our resources to develop regional communities of knowledge and expertise. The Advance Society in Egypt, The Autism Society in Kenya, The Patrick Center in Nigeria and the Saudi Autism Society are all NGOs which have been set up by parents and professionals, and in addition to servicing children with special needs they also offer teacher training and support . However, while still respecting cultural and linguistic variaitons, we must be able to better train and support teachers and professionals working with children with Autism in these countries. We need to ensure that the standard of training is equitable and we also need to consider technological advances, such as e-learning and even second life as tools which can support the training and education of teachers and professionals working in these countries.

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