Molly Ola Pinney, Founder and CEO of the Global Autism Project spoke at the United Nations on April 2nd, to kick off World Autism Awareness Month to discuss the conditions of people with autism in countries around the world.
People diagnosed with autism in many countries face discrimination in their communities, they rarely have access to the services needed to help them reach their potential and the diagnosis can often be a death sentence. The Global Autism Project and their partners around the world work to change the stigma of autism by providing locally led educational training and services within their own communities.
“Our model is highly focused on sustainability as we emphasize doing with others, instead of for them,” says Pinney. “We believe that the best people to educate and create change in communities are the people from those very communities.”
Nonprofit organizations have developed a reputation for going where they are not wanted and for attempting to change things using their own paradigm, instead of considering the cultural norms and nuances of the places they work. The result is an implied assumption that the local people cannot help or create change themselves which in turn produces perpetual dependence out outside help.
Sangeeta Jain, a partner in India and a parent of a child with autism describes the Global Autism Project as “the light at the end of a very long, dark and lonely tunnel…They understand us, let us lead the way, and support us and this movement by showing us our own power to create change. I’ve never seen an NGO work this way and we are grateful for all that they’ve done.”
Autism can be a tough diagnosis anywhere in the world but can be particularly devastating where the locally held belief that people with autism are possessed and need to be given back to their ancestors. Pinney emphasizes the need not just for awareness but for action. Ensuring that every child with autism has a safe place where they can go to learn in their own country is paramount to ending the humanitarian crisis endured by many autistic children around the world. Global Autism Project achieves this by partnering with and training the teachers at autism centers in research-backed practices in countries around the world.
The Global Autism Project is a 501c3 that works to ensure that quality services for people with autism are available in countries by partnering with local centers and businesses to provide necessary and ongoing education. Their model is sustainable and scalable. To find out more visit www.globalautismproject.org. Molly Ola Pinney can be reached for further comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.