Children suffering from autism (under Autism Botswana) got a boost on Wednesday when Botswana Insurance Company donated a P50 000 cheque in support of an integrated pilot project they are undertaking in partnership with Camp Hill Community Trust.The project is for early identification and intervention for children with autism and other development delays dubbed Ranaka Pilot Project. The project was launched in November 2015 to enable people with disabilities an opportunity to live in dignity, respect and community inclusion, through intervention and training that is appropriate to their individual needs. According to the Project Coordinator Phatsimo Rampa, through screening procedures children who have been identified with autism or other developmental delays are already receiving appropriate interventions that will give them a better chance to progress in education. “The aim of the Ranaka Pilot Project is to ultimately develop the capacity of Autism Botswana to be a resource organization that is sustainable and able to provide advocacy and support to people with autism and their families," she said.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, restrictive and non repetitive behavior. There is no data available in Botswana about the total number of people with autism. “There are however indications that it is rapidly increasing, and in many cases people with autism are often diagnosed with other co-existing conditions such as seizures, epilepsy, fragile X syndrome and others,” said Maleshwane Mauco, the Project Consultant. She said a major problem in Botswana is because children are often only identified as having autism when they reach 8-10 years because primary health care workers failed to identify the condition from a young age. At age 8-10 years the window of opportunity for intervention has passed, she said.
Johann Claasen, BIC Managing Director, said at the handing over that the sponsorship is in line with one of their strategy pillars targeted towards health care improvement, advocacy and public education on health matters. “BIC strongly believe in the betterment of the society and we continue to support projects that are looking into improving the livelihood of the less fortunate,” he said, adding that they strive to support families of those affected by autism.