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(Rwanda) Need for more special schools for autism

April 5, 2023, The New Times: Parents decry shortage of ‘special schools’ for autistic children

There is a need for more centres and special schools to enable learning for children who have been diagnosed with autism and related disorders across the country, parents made the case while marking International Autism Awareness day on Wednesday.

Special schools cater for students with particular educational requirements arising from physical or intellectual disability or behavioural difficulties such as autism….

People with autism have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual, studies have shown….

Parents said that when children with autism go to schools, they are usually rejected because there are no facilities and teachers skilled in teaching them.

"There should be a centre or a special school for such children in every district or even at sector level. Even the few existing centres and special schools are privately-owned and therefore the cost of education for autistic children is too expensive to afford for low-income earning families,” said Jöhan P. Claude, a representative of parents with autistic children.

He said that such children must access special education from kindergarten to tertiary education.

"If having special schools and centres dedicated to children with autism is not possible, every school across the country should have additional facilities and trained teachers who care for such children. However, the government should subsidize the cost of education for children with autism,” he added. …

Only children with autism from well off families can pursue their education. Poor families are feeling the pinch,” she said….

He made the case for research to come up with data on children with autism for better planning.

"We want private higher learning institutions to introduce special needs departments to produce teachers who can care for children with autism. However, we need data on children with autism to help us in planning and we should have data by next year,” he said.

Globally, 1 in 160 children has autism, according to the World Health Organisation.

He reiterated that to have more centres and special schools looking after children with autism requires planning, adding that there is still a limited budget and lack of enough teachers with skills in special needs education….

A mother helps her autistic child write on a flip chart at Kigali Autism Centre at Kagugu in Gasabo District on December 23, 2022. Photo: Craish Bahizi.


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