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Research Articles

Research on autism in Africa has improved considerably from CHIP International's inception in 2011. Even now though, research, data and statistics on autism in Africa is still abysmally low. Information available is often limited to an overview of conditions on the continent in general, or specific to primarily two sub-Saharan countries, namely South Africa and Nigeria. CHIP International's autism awareness projects include encouraging and publicizing published, substantive research on various aspects of autism and developmental disorders in Africa. 


Learning and Learning Difficulties in Africa

Education for the Children with Learning Disabilities: African-European Co-operation for Promoting Higher. Education and Research Project

Stigma and Forgiveness in Ghanaian Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

This study explored stigma experiences of mothers of children with ASD and forgiveness as their coping response. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 6 mothers of children with ASD. Results of this study found several noteworthy themes including, feelings of mother, family/societal reactions, forgiveness factors, and impact of forgiveness. 

Autistic children in Africa suffer from stigma


Autism affects the way a child communicates and sees the world, but with only 50 child psychiatrists in Africa, it requires specialised care that most Africans don’t have. According to the UN, one in every 160 children suffers from autism. With only 50 child psychiatrists in Africa for a population of a billion people, autism is rarely diagnosed and children with autism and their carers suffer in silence. The disorder is often seen as a curse treated by traditional healers in some parts of the continent.


First analysis of African autism cohort reveals millions of new variants


Genome sequences from one of the first research cohorts of African children with autism and their families have revealed more than 4 million novel genetic variants, some of which occur in genes not previously linked to the condition. Researchers presented the unpublished results on Monday at the 2020 American Society of Human Genetics conference, which is being held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Autistic students in South Africa: how has their life changed?


The coronavirus pandemic spread to South Africa, with the first confirmed case announced on 5 March 2020 by Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize.

On 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster, and announced measures like immediate travel restrictions and the closure of schools from 18 March. “Schools are often place of safety for children with disabilities”, says Marie.

Autism spectrum disorders in sub-Saharan Africa - The Lancet ... › PIIS2215-0366(16)30138-9 › fulltext

Autism spectrum disorder is one of the most prevalent neuro-developmental disorders in high-income countries, but little is known about the disorder in low-income and middle-income regions, such as Africa. A review of the global prevalence of autism did not identify any data from sub-Saharan Africa, even though this region has a population of nearly 1 billion, 40% of whom are children younger than 14 years... 



Autism Spectrum Disorders in Africa: Current Challenges in Identification, Assessment, and Treatment... - › pmc › articles › PMC6858866

Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has increased over recent years, however, little is known about the identification and management of autism spectrum disorder in Africa. This report summarizes a workshop on autism spectrum disorder in Africa under the auspices of the International Child Neurology Association and the African Child Neurology Association through guided presentations and working group reports, focusing on identification, diagnosis, management, and community support...

A Systematic Review of Research on Autism Spectrum ... › journals

The burden of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is not well known. We carried out a systematic review of the literature to identify published work from SSA. We have systematically searched four databases, namely, Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Child Development & Adolescent Studies, through EBSCO and identified studies from across SSA...

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Africa - African Journals ... › index.php › ajpsy › article › view


The universal occurrence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) was queried about twenty-six years ago. It was thought to occur only in western industrialized countries with high technological development. Over the last decade, knowledge about ASD and its prevalence has been documented as being on the rise in different regions of the world,with most literature coming from the western world – the situation in Africa on aspects of ASD remain unclear



Epigenetic Autism Study Breaks New Ground

“DNA methylation associated with mitochondrial dysfunction in a South African Autism Spectrum Disorder cohort”, a ground-breaking paper appearing in the Autism Research journal.


When Dr Colleen O’Ryan embarked on an ambitious project to research the genes associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a cohort of South African children, she hardly expected the study to lead her right back to the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Chemical Pathology laboratory where her academic career started thirty years ago...

Centre for Autism Research in Africa

The Centre for Autism Research in Africa (CARA) is an interdisciplinary clinical research programme based in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cape Town...

Autism Spectrum Disorders in Africa

1. Introduction

“………. Perhaps, in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none, or very little: there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa. The rest is largely darkness………… And darkness is not a subject for history” – Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper. This chapter is necessitated so that similar comments to Trevor-Roper’s on African history would be avoided as it relates to autism spectrum disorders in Africa, even though there are limited research works relating to autism spectrum disorders in Africa at present...



Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Africa: Need for Shifting Research and Public Health Focus › publication › 291260970_Identifi...



Researches from Western culture have consistently demonstrated that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can be identified as early as during infancy. In spite of such observation, late identification of ASD and poor level of awareness are the findings from Africa. The importance of early intervention in children with ASD is well known, but there will be no possibility of active intervention in absence of early identification and appropriate diagnosis.

Children in Africa diagnosed with ASD much later than Western cultures... › asd-blog › children-in-africa-dia..

Delayed diagnosis may cause increased severity for children in Ghana.


Autism is a lifelong neuro-development disorder. Autism is characterized by difficulties with communication, repetitive behaviors, and impaired social interaction. Globally, there has been an increase in autism. However, in sub-Saharan Africa there is a lack of data collection on autism. Ruparelia et al., set out to uncover the current state of autism in these countries. Additionally, the researchers hope to spread awareness to advocacy groups and individuals so that resources can be properly allocated to treat autism in sub-Saharan Africa.

The average age of diagnosis in Ghana for ASD is 8 years old, while in America it is 3 years old. This five year delay in diagnosis, may lead to increased severity...

A Clinic and a Paraclinic Study of Tunisian Population of Children with Autism. About 63 cases

Autistic disorder is a pervasive developmental disorder which starts before the age of 3. The clinic features of autism are variable; the autonomy degree, the speech quality, the mental retardation associated and specially the existence of an organic disease change its clinic expression. A good knowledge of the basic signs is important to put diagnosis. This work, propose to describe a clinic and a Para clinic profile of Tunisian population of children with autism...

Health Facility-based Prevalence and Potential Risk Factors of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Mali



The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is 1-2% worldwide, 1 in 68 in the U.S, and unknown in Africa. ASD is under-diagnosed in Mali due to stigma and the lack of appropriate human resources and infrastructure.


To determine the ASD frequency and potential risk factors in Mali...

Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders - ERIC 

The study employed a phenomenological design with semi-structured interview to explore teachers’ knowledge and perceived challenges of teaching children with autism (CWA) in regular primary schools. A sample of 16 teachers from three regular primary schools in Dar es Salaam region were interviewed along various aspects related to their knowledge and perceived challenges of teaching CWA...

Gaps in Knowledge and Care of Children with ASD in Tanzania ... › publication › 270159174_Identif...

Abstract Introduction:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a severe neuro-developmental disorder with onset in childhood and is being increasingly recognized worldwide. Recent statistics indicate an increase from 1 out of every 90 children to almost one out of every 60 children in USA. It has also been increasingly recognized in many African countries. In Tanzania, we are noticing a large gap in information on the knowledge, prevalence and care of children with ASD. 

Autism in Africa: The Critical Need For Life Saving Awareness

We now recognize Autism as a complex neuro-biological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships. It is also characterized by restricted and repetitive behavior...

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