A school has been set up in Congo-Brazzaville to promote the socialization of Children with autism and raise awareness of this neuro-developmental disorder.
Located in the heart of Poto-Poto, the most cosmopolitan of Brazzaville’s neighborhoods, the Case Dominique school, run by Catholic nuns, welcomes 350 autistic children and others suffering from Down’s syndrome this year.
At the Case Dominique school, classes are held between 8:00 am (7:00 am GMT) and 11:00 am (10:00 am GMT), interspersed with a recreation period.
The students (girls and boys) are dressed in navy blue pants and khaki shirts, like those in normal schools.
When it opened in 1999, the Dominica Hut Center worked with child victims of armed conflict. Then it focused on autistic children.
According to its director Dieu Merci Nakavoua, since inception, the specialized school has had some successes while recounting the story of an autistic child who started with all the difficulties but is in France as a painter.
However, if at Case Dominique, autistic children seem to flourish, they are often stigmatized in the rest of society.
To fight against these prejudices, Case Dominique has launched an awareness campaign.
Sister Louvouandou says for the past two years, school officials have been going from time to time in the streets with leaflets, to meet people to talk to them and explain to them that autism is a phenomenon that exists and must be handled with a lot of compassion and respect.
She adds that the change of mentalities is slow in Congolese society where the situation has not evolved much and many autistic children are still refused on public transport buses.
According to health experts and specialists, in Congo-Brazzaville, there are no statistics on autism.