My name is Thérèse Kolongo. Although my husband and I have been in the United States for over 20 years, we are natives of the Republic of Congo. Sixteen years ago, we gave birth to a child with Autism. His name is Emile.
I started Autism Congo because children with Autism in my home country do not have access to crucial resources- the resources that have given us much-needed support and allowed Emile to thrive. It is my hope, dream and mission to give these opportunities to other Congolese women and their children with Autism.
Autism Congo seeks to shift perspectives on Autism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond. We aim to improve the quality of life outcomes for children and families affected by Autism through:
- Educating Families and Children affected by Autism through school setting.
- Empowering Mothers of Children with Autism with Resources to succeed.
- Elevating Community Acceptance with work programs about Autism.
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability, with a frequency in the U.S. of roughly 1 in 36 births. (Autism-Society.org, 2024) However, access to resources can improve outcomes for children born with Autism. Early diagnosis and intervention can reduce the costs of lifelong care by 2/ 3rds. (Autism-Society.org, 2024) Through your donations to Autism Congo, you can directly impact the life of a child with Autism in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Your donations help provide school-based instruction, early intervention and therapy and community workshops & resource materials to Autistic children in the DRC and their families.
- Build a school in the Democratic Republic of Congo, specifically for children with Autism. Our school will provide a safe and nurturing educational environment.
- Share medical and diagnostic information in order to stress the importance of early intervention and therapy.
- We seek to educate and support not only the mothers of children with Autism, but their families and communities as well.
In addition, we seek to provide parents, teachers and medical professionals with specialized training and education to support early intervention measures and diagnoses. This training and knowledge can be delivered through workshops, reading material, support groups and classes.
Dispelling the misunderstandings of Autism
In many parts of Africa, children that have autism are being “labeled as devils and they are not diagnosed and not given any care or treatment”. Some believe that autism is a punishment for a parent’s bad behavior and that the so called “cure” or “solution” is through prayer. Often times, people seek help for Autism in the religious community instead of trained professionals, resulting in incorrect diagnoses. Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Africa, often times lack the knowledge, recourse and resources to help their child.
For the children and their families & the community
“It takes a village to raise a child” – African Proverb
A “village” supports its members, and the village we hope to create will provide life changing resources and opportunities for autistic children and their families. Our goal to build a school for Autistic Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo with alter the lives for many children for generations to come and change communities and their current beliefs and the stigma associated with Autism. This school will provide children with Autism the opportunity to thrive in similar ways that children with Autism do in the United States and other developed nations. Autism Spectrum Disorders contribute to significant developmental setbacks for children, including verbal/non verbal communication, sensory processing and difficulty with social situations, like play with others. This school would also relieve the financial burden from families for their child’s education.
Will you help us?
We need your support to help us improve outcomes for Autistic children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.