How can I understand autism from a Somali perspective?

These are some common worries that Somali parents have about autism:

  • It’s a mental illness
  • It means they are disabled
  • They might be possessed
  • It’s because we live in a western country, people in Somalia don’t have this problemA young boy is watching another group of children playing.


The truth is that autism is a ‘neurodevelopmental’ difference, which means the brain is wired differently.


Here are some facts about autism:

  • It’s not just a western condition, it exists everywhere in the world
  • It’s not the fault of the child, the parents or the family
  • It affects both boys and girls and some families will have more than one child with autism
  • It is a lifelong condition

Everyone with autism is different from each other.

A child with autism might have difficulties with:

  • Understanding what people are saying and knowing how to respond
  • Reading body language and facial expressions
  • Doing the same things over and over again

Many autistic children will have different qualities and strengths, for example:

  • A good memory for facts or the ability to focus on details
  • Being more honest and open than other children
  • Being happy in their own company

Your child will always have autism throughout their life, but it doesn’t mean they can’t succeed. What will make a difference is early intervention and knowing how to support them.

To download this information and some top tips, click the links below.

How can I understand autism from a Somali perspective (English Version) opens in new tab

How can I understand autism from a Somali perspective (Somali Version) opens in new tab


Autism Independence worked with NIHR to produce these videos to be watched alongside the fact sheet.