Having lived in Africa for over 25 years and returning to New York to work at a center for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Mary Diop with two pioneer-spirited colleagues: Lois Bond and Dr. Diane Taranto, co-founded CHIP International in 2011 as a nonprofit-501(c)3. CHIP International grew out of a desire to increase awareness of ASD and apply a practical and successful training program of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA) to autism in Africa.
Statistics for ASD and pervasive developmental disabilities are unknown in Africa. Relatively few surveys have been done. We had no idea as to the challenges we would have to face. However, cases of these disabilities and other special needs’ exist extensively. The lack of knowledge about the possible causes and treatment, and minimal resources and services with few specialized personnel make the task particularly challenging.
Our program began with the International Conference on Policies and Practices on Autism in Africa in April 2011 in Ghana. We gave a presentation on training staff. It was well-received by the 150 participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Europe and US. This was the startup of our work. We then went to Senegal for a series of three presentations to parents, therapists and teachers equaling 120 participants. We discovered that there was and is a need for training on how to manage the special needs’ child. We then began to conduct 3-to-5 day trainings on the identification of autism and the methodology of Applied Behavior Analysis over the next few years. To date, we have provided training of an audience of over 500 people.
Our future plans involve reaching other parents, teachers and therapists across West African countries with the ABA program and other relevant intervention methods. We intend to accelerate awareness and provide the best and most effective training across West Africa first, then through Sub-Saharan Africa. CHIP International's mission is to help ensure that children with autism and related neurological developmental disabilities in the region can live up to their full, God-given potential.
CEO, CHIP International
Tribute to Lois Bond, Co-founder of CHIP International