Over 40 Liberians Benefit from Autism Awareness Training

Some participants of the one day event in a group photo


MONROVIA: Over 40 Liberians have recently benefited from a one day training exercise that was organized by the African Youth Peer Review Committee (APRC) in collaboration with the Houston Clear Lake University, United States of America.

The training which was conducted through zoom on Saturday, October 16, 2021 was held at the Barnersville Township in Montserrado County.

Panelists of the training includes Jerbor Nelson, BCBA; Lauratu Bah, Behavior Analysis Graduate Student; Jeddlee Kinnii, National Coordinator, APRC and Loukia Tsami, Behavior Analyst.

The training brought together over 40 young Liberians including few individuals from the physically-challenged community of the country.

Making his presentation, Jebor Nelson of BCBA begin by intimating through a PowerPoint presentation that Liberia is among countries in Africa that is still finding it difficult to address issues of disability among its citizenry.

He said individuals living with autism and developmental disabilities do not have access to basic social services, noting that it is important for more awareness to be done about the risk children are face with when they are not properly taken care off.

In a couple of slides projected during the training, Nelson highlighted through videos and scripted presentation, the vulnerability of those already living with disabilities in Liberia and the entrenched struggles they are entangled with due to their societal placement as a result of their condition.

One of the videos shown to the participants depicts the footballing career of a physically challenge individual who is a member of the Liberia Amputee team.

In the short documentary, the physically-challenge individual is at some point in time seen demonstrating his footballing gymnastics despite his condition.

The individual also in the video documentary explained his ordeal in fighting his way-out to accomplish his vision in spite of the societal barriers that he is confronted with.

Another phase of Nelson’s presentation also speaks to, among other things, the lack of experts in particular fields like Special Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Psychiatrist, and Behavior Analyst in Liberia.

He went on to name the absence of awareness on autism and related disorders and the lack of establish institutions, especially centers or clinics that are to address the complications in the country.

“Limited access to educational programs for professional to create these programs [autism and other disorders]; Lack of economic prosperity to fund these programs; Cultural awareness – frowning on witchcraft or Ju Ju insinuations about kids with autism and other disorders; Limited access to access to critical infrastructure [internet, electricity, road systems etc], the BCBA fellow PowerPoint slide reveals.

For her part, Loukia Tsami, Behavior Analyst at the Houston Clear Lake University who along with volunteers, has been offering behavior analysis services via Telehealth to families, welcomed participants to the one day zoom training exercise and urged them to use the knowledge gain to advance the awareness of autism and other disorders in Liberia.

“The biggest challenge now is to find like-minded people who are ready to support community in a tangible way. We have begun this effort at UH-Clear Lake, but we believe the sky is the limit,” a slide in Nelson’s presentation quotes Loukia.

Currently, Telehealth ABA World Project supports families in Liberia and 25 other countries around the world, all on a volunteer basis

Meanwhile, AYPRC National Coordinator Jeddlee Kinnii said the one day event was important because it will help drive support towards people living with autism and other forms of developmental disabilities in the country.

He said there is a need for the government and other international partners to support the awareness process of autism in Liberia stressing that, it will help protect the life of kids who have, because of cultural limitations, been rejected by the society due to their condition.

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