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UNFPA Ghana hosts E-Workshop on SRH for Persons Living with Autism

As part of activities to mark World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) Autism Ambassadors Ghana in partnership with UNFPA Ghana with support from the Canadian Government, hosted an e-workshop with over 90 participants on 31st March, 2020.

 

Per the SDG agenda 2030 of leaving no one behind, the workshop which was originally scheduled to take place within the premises of Autism Ambassadors Ghana, was changed in to an e-workshop so as to meet the COVID_19 containment lockdown regulations in Ghana. The workshop aimed at creating awareness on autism in general, while specifically providing information on how to effectively deliver on the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of adolescents living with autism (YPLWA).

Ms. Alice Mamaga Amoako, founder of Autism Ambassadors Ghana, in a presentation, said autism is a life-long neuro-developmental condition with no known cure. However, early diagnosis and certain therapies are able to improve the lives of persons living with autism. She explained that they struggle to tell people their needs and feelings, and to understand what other people try to communicate. This makes interaction and communication with them challenging.

Worldwide, it is estimated that one in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder. This is a relatively high proportion with burdensome implications on parents of affected children. This often leads to children being confined to their homes or neglected, to combat the stigma from society.

In the midst of battling persistent social disadvantages stemming from discrimination, the SRH needs of these individuals are often unmet. Most people believe that persons living with autism either asexual or hypersexual. However, it is vital to realise that SRH does not only entail the absence of reproductive illness but also access to information to help individuals make informed decisions.

When it comes to YPLWA, it is imperative to identify how to effectively communicate reproductive health information to them so that SRH rights can be realised. This is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which calls on states to promote inclusive development that recognises the right of persons with disabilities to ensure access to SRH services and education.

This year’s global theme for the WAAD, ‘The Transition to Adulthood’, highlights the significant challenges that persons living with autism encounter in relation to accessing opportunities and inequalities in access to health care.

The workshop ended with a call to accept children with autism in our societies and help to protect their rights, especially in the month of April which is the World Autism Awareness month.