Currently, there are two Registered Behavior Technicians who are certified to provide specialized support and guidance for children with Autism in Kenya. This shortage has drastically limited support available for many families with children with Autism. Ntimama, a mom who has a son with Autism, said that getting help for her son was incredibly challenging. She even sought help from an International therapist; however, this option came with a considerable cost.
What Intervention is made for Children with Autism in Kenya?
To improve access to support for children with Autism in Kenya, Ntimama initiated the Kalel Program, named after her son.
“It will provide specialized training to professionals and paraprofessionals interested in providing evidence-based interventions to support the development of children with autism,” said Laura Barcelos, associate director of the Program & Behavioral Analysis Doctor.
Laura adds that although the Program is targeted to children with Autism, it is open to anyone with a disability, but the main focus is on Autism.
The Kalel Program will provide at least 40 hours of training which encompass all the requirements to become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). The training will be online and in-person learning to ensure the participants understand the content and can apply it effectively. Laura and her team of experienced professionals will provide supervision at the in-person sessions.
Next, the participants will take a competency test to qualify for the RBT exam. The first cohort has 28 registered participants, and the Program is open to accepting more people.
Partnership and collaboration to improve access
The Program is also committed to conducting training, and it’s a partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno, and the United States International University- Africa (USIU), which have agreed to collaborate and bring the training program to Kenya. Successful participants of the Program will be able to use the RBT credential to provide quality care to children with Autism and other disabilities in Nairobi and most parts of Kenya.
Laura states, “Our goal is to improve access and quality of services provided to children with Autism in Kenya. Most children with Autism are ostracized and overlooked, and the Kalel Program is meant to provide a platform that helps these children receive proper help and support”.
University of Nevada, Reno students can also access the program modules and participate in the training. Supervision and testing will be directed by assistant professor of psychology Bethany Contreras and her team. The Program is set to launch this fall, and it is expected to expand & take in more students from the community and professionals interested in providing care to children with Autism and other disabilities.
Benefits and Objectives of Accessing Training
According to Bethany, once a student completes the Program, they can provide interventions that promote social competence, reduce problem behaviour, and support learning in individuals with autism. The students can customize therapy services to children with Autism and other disabilities or start private practices.
The objective is to create positive change for thousands of autistic families & children all over Kenya.