Garissa Assembly passes Autism Education motion

Policy and Special Projects director Wamaratu Chege (Centre) addresses media after an autism training retreat. [Standard]

Families with children living with autism in Garissa County will soon have a reason to smile after members of the county assembly unanimously passed the Autism Education motion.

According Waberi MCA Hussein Dagane who moved the motion, the bill was long overdue going by the rising cases of Autism in the county and the urgent need to address the condition.

MCAs overwhelmingly supported the motion making Garissa the first county to pass the Autism Education motion in Kenya.

The current statistics of Autism cases in Kenya is approximated at about 1 in every 40 children.

Early intervention especially in Early Childhood Development Centres, with evidence-based supports such as Applied Behaviour Analysis, significantly improves the quality of life and outcomes of children with Autism and reduces the immense strain to the family that is typically accompanied by the diagnosis.

In the recent past, there have been hundreds of cases across the country, where children diagnosed with Autism were sent away from schools due to lack of proper equipment and trained teaching personnel. The families, most of who were left with no options were forced to stay with the children at home.

Autism Lights Inc, a nonprofit organisation whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with Autism played a role in the passage of the motion after a retreat with the MCAs to create Autism awareness.

Light Inc has also advocated for Autism Acceptance and Inclusion and providing training to parents, teachers and health care professionals on evidence-based interventions for Autism.

The retreat also brought on board the Board Certified Behaviour Analysts, Autism Consultants from Boston, USA and Policy and Special Projects director Wamaratu Chege where effective sustainable solutions for Autism in Kenya were discussed.

The NGO now wants other counties to pass the motion to ensure effective and accessible education in a sustainable format for all children diagnosed with Autism in the country.