Siraje Hassan, Parent and Co-Founder
When my son Yoins was first diagnosed with autism at age two, I felt angry, sad and confused because I have never heard of the word Autism before. I had no idea what to do next and how to help my son. But when the doctor told me there is no known cause and cure for autism, I felt helpless and hopeless.
After I realized to be thankful that god blessed me with a beautiful son, I saw the hope in him and the help he needed from his Father and Mother, rolled up my sleeves and went to work by reading every autism book I could find and going online for any help to give my son the help and hope he and countless others need and deserve. I would not change a thing about my son Yonis. He is a happy and loving child and I say thank god everyday for him. There is HELP and there is HOPE not just for my son but for all of our children.
When I initially noticed the high number of Somali born kids in Seattle WA pre-school autism classes, I was shocked. I started contacting the Seattle education department to see if they were aware and what they were going to do about it. I contacted Seattle health department to see if they were aware and what they were going to do about it. I also contacted a local news channel (SOMTV) to do a story on what I saw in the schools and they agreed.
As a result, awareness has been raised which will help parents get their children into early identification and early intervention. I am extremely excited and grateful to how far the issue of Somali children and Autism has come and all of the progress we have made thus far. However, this is just the beginning. We must do more to help the families and provide a clear road map as well as to find out the reason for the high rate. I am very optimistic and confident that the Autism puzzle will be solved.