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Autism Abroad  ✈️ 🌎

Our organization is a diverse community filled with members from all over the world. Emory emphasizes that we are global citizens and the Emory AAO is dedicated to understanding how autism is perceived not only in our immediate environment, but also in other countries. Here are some things our members learned while studying and living abroad. 

Holly Shan, England 

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While I was in England, I was able to shadow pediatricians at the John Radcliffe Hospital. I learned that there is a "Community Pediatrics" Department in every NHS (the UK universal healthcare system) hospital. In the US, we do not have a resource like this nor do we have autism specialties in our medical system. The US, does however, have a strong relationship with the UK in its autism research efforts. 

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Zoya Munsar, Pakistan 

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Throughout South Asia, there has historically been a stigma attached to the word “disability” and, as a result, ASD is often not discussed properly in both social and academic settings. In Pakistan, the prevalence of autism is reported to be approximately 1 in 120, which is significantly lower than what is reported in the western world.


It can be inferred that this low statistic is largely a result of the lack of awareness about ASD, leading to much fewer diagnoses. Many children, especially in rural areas, go undiagnosed or are labelled under “mental retardation”. Though there are misconceptions regarding autism in these communities, many Pakistani doctors are now conducting autism research and spreading awareness, and there has been significant progress in the level of awareness in the past decade! 

Julian McCarthy, New Zealand 

Julian just came back from University of Aukland’s Media Studies Program. 🇳🇿 He reported that the New Zealand government just signed into law the Spectrum Care and Autism Memorandum of Understanding focused on smoothing the journey for people living with autism. This is a huge step for including those with autism into the conversation. 

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Griffin Wickwire, Egypt 

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Griffin reported back that autism is a tough issue in Egyptian society.
Autism can be viewed as a curse, and children are sometimes caged. 🏚

But progress is afoot. In April, a beloved Egyptian leader, Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, head of the Suez Canal Authority, stunned the public with a simple statement: His grandson has autism. We need our leaders and citizens to step up to the plate to combat these notions about autism. 

Titus Hood, Ireland 

During his time in his home country, Tits found out about the “Irish Autism Society.” They have a unique education policy that is not common in the US - they have special integration programs between neurotypcial children and children with ASD and the results have been very promising. 

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Saad Shaban, Turkey 

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Sash told us there is not a system or model in Turkey for monitoring and educating babies and toddlers with special needs under 37 months old. This is concerning since the younger a child, the more effective treatments for symptoms of autism can be. The Turkish Philanthropy Society acknowledges this and is calling on the government and citizens to help make meaningful change in the country 🇹🇷

Andrew Sun, Taiwan 

Andrew went to high school in Taiwan. He told us students don’t learn about autism or mental health in general in Asian cultures. There is an urban and rural disparity in autism care which is rare already. However, the Taiwan has made government has made promises to get free treatment for children in the future. 

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Clare Brown, Italy

Clare, a business student, spent a semester in Rome. She learned that in 2015, the first Italian law on autism was been approved by the Parliament: "Provisions relating to diagnosis, treatment and habilitation of people with autism spectrum disorders and family assistance." - a huge step for autism rights!

Alyssa Forsyth, Peru   

Centro Ann Sullivan del Perú, a nonprofit organization in Lima named after Helen Keller’s teacher is providing a novel program for adults in autism in Peru. Thank you Alyssa for all your work abroad and at home advocating for those with ASD!

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