New Autism Treatment Center Launched in Minnesota for Somali Community

Minnetonka, Minnesota, St. David’s Autism Treatment Center – KSTP reporter Brandi Powell spent time at the autism treatment center and learned about how the Minneapolis Somali community will soon benefit from a new program.

She explains in her report how autism is a foreign concept for the Minneapolis Somali community. Mariam Mohamed a project consultant said

“We don’t even have a word for autism in our language,”

She continued to add:

“This is something very hard for our community to understand.” Without knowing what it is, how can you combat it? “So imagine how hard that is for mothers,”

Research from the University of Minnesota diagnosed autism in one in 32 Somali children aged 7 to 9 in Minneapolis schools. Experts say that this shows the need for early intervention. Help will be more available from April.

Julie Sjordal, St. David’s Executive Director said:

“Our site is ready, we have a solid partnership.”

St. David’s autism treatment center focuses on sensory skills and play. Megan Weber Program Supervisor said that they have lots of equipment and materials including, mats, balls scooter boards and different types of swings.

The children at the center will also be interacting with non autistic children to help them in developing social skills.

Next month, St. David’s will be partnering with Somali-owned, “Children’s Choice Childcare.” This pairing will enable them to provide treatment for children aged 3 to 4, in a familiar way.

The Medica Foundation has provided $175,000 in grant funding to support the development of this project. The program will be funded by commercial insurance and medical assistance, as well as charitable giving from individuals and foundations.

The original article by Brandi Powell on the abc 5 Eyewitness News website can be read here