Sensitising Communities to Autism in Sierra Leone

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways.

Many African children with autism are hidden away at home – sometimes chained up, almost always undiagnosed. In Sierra Leone, there are very few diagnostic facilities or guidelines on treatment or interventions to support people with autism.

The Sierra Leone Autistic Society is working to improve the lives of people with autism. They shared Fatmata and Bundu’s story with us.

Fatmata is the mother of an eleven-year-old son with autism. She had been evicted many times from her rented properties due to neighbours pressuring landlords to evict her and her son Bundu. 

Bundu has severe autism, which causes him to scream loudly, and when this happens in the middle of the night, neighbours assumed he was either a witch or possessed by the devil. 

Fatmata was suffering with depression and told the Sierra Leone Autistic Society (SLAS) sensitisation team that she was thinking of “ending it all’. They stepped in to support the family and Bundu is now in school and mum receives advice through the support group.

The Sierra Leone Autistic Society engaged in sensitisation work with Fatmata’s community and now, for the first time in a long while, Fatmata and Bundu have a supportive community to live in.

Sierra Leone Autistic Society collaborated with music legend Steady Bongo on Kick Stigma out of Autism Campaign songs.

To find out more about the work of the Sierra Leone Autistic Society, please visit: