Autism in Uganda

August 18, 2016

Autism in Uganda by Anna Rania Klibi

Autism is one of the most challenging conditions in the world, with no known cause or cure. Up until a few years ago autism cases in Uganda were classed as “witch craft” and people with autism often referred to in local dialect (Luganda) as ‘kasiru’ loosely translated as dense and worthless.

While there is growing acknowledgment of this condition in the developed world, there it is hardly understood in countries like Uganda.

According to the US Centre for Disease Control, autism is predestined to affect an estimated 1 in 260 childbirths. In Uganda, this would mean that more than a hundred of thousands of children and adults are on the autistic


Facilities and services for children with special needs in Uganda are inadequate and are generalized, mixing children with diverse disorders and further hindering development for autistic children.

While autistic children themselves may not perceive stigma which is often transported by the parents who have to apologize and attempt to explain their children’s behavior. Because parents are incapable to explain their children’s behavior in every instance, they sometimes choose to isolate the children and leave them out of public activities; for some parents, and mostly

Autism in Uganda by Anna Rania Klibi

for mothers.

These parents need support and information, and would benefit greatly if the community were better informed about autism. This is why advocacy is so important.