Autism in Morocco: Call for a national strategy of care

Families have to pay on average between 2,500 and 12,000 DH per month

Rights: On the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, 2023, the Association Vaincre l’autisme is calling for the development of a national strategy for autism. An epidemiological study must be conducted to determine the number of people affected by this disorder at the national level.

The Association Vaincre l’autisme continues its fight for the care of autistic people in Morocco. The association once again calls on the government to put in place a real public health policy with a care strategy that would allow autistic children to access their fundamental rights in order to be treated and educated. The Association points out that in the majority of cases, children with this disorder are cared for by their parents who are exhausted in finding solutions to allow their children to develop, and in making sure that autism does not degrade their health status. The cost of care is high, making the families economically vulnerable. “Estimates vary between 25.00 and 12.000 DH per month”, notes the association.

Families remain alone and isolated when faced with the autism of their child. The association reveals that autism affects 680,000 people in Morocco, including 216,000 children. This neurodevelopmental disorder affects 12,800 births per year in Morocco, which represents 35 births per day. These figures are the international prevalences that Vaincre l’autisme has been announcing since 2013 in the absence of precise figures until now. That is why the NGO calls for the digitization of an epidemiological study to know precisely how many people are affected by autism. The association notes that the total absence of epidemiological data on autism illustrates the vagueness.

On the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, 2023, the association notes that it is urgent that the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Higher Education address this problem and announce their strategy for autism. Several initiatives have been set up by parents’ associations to try to save their child.

That said, the associations with projects remain without state support to maintain and improve them. Among the projects of Vaincre l’autisme is FuturoSchool Rabat, the first ABA school in Morocco, which provides quality care, with a scientific approach, in a public school, with convincing results where the children in care integrate the school in regular classes, where parents are involved in the care and supported. This concept does not aim to replace school but to give autistic children the basis to benefit from schooling in a regular environment.

As a reminder, autism is a neurological and genetic disease that affects the functioning of the brain, the immune and biological systems. It alters the ability to recognize expressions, social and emotional codes and generates emotional hypersensitivity and behavioral disorders. Symptoms appear before the age of three and then persist. Children most often present difficulties in learning and social integration.

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