Minnesota: New autism program to focus on Somali children
St. David's Center will launch a new treatment program in Northeast Minneapolis that focuses on Somali families.
Autism is more prevalent in Somali children compared to other ethnicities, according to a University of Minnesota study released last year. The reason is unknown, but it has shed light on another problem.
"I think the greatest barrier right now is the community attitude about it," Beth Fagin, senior director of autism services for St. David's Center.
There is no word for autism in Somali, yet a University study found that for kids ages 7 to 9 in Minneapolis 1 in 32 Somali children are autistic, compare that to 1 in 36 white children and 1 and 62 black (non-Somali) children.
That's why St. David's is opening a treatment program in April to focus on Somali children, according to Fagin. The location will be right next door to a Somali day care center and will look similar to their Minnetonka location. The treatment model will be the same, but the execution will be different.
"What will be significantly different is the language skills that the staff will have and the outreach to family," Fagin said.
The center is training staff like Amina Hassan to help break barriers. They will be able to serve six children in the morning and six children is the afternoon.
"I can say that for some families right now they are not getting the help they need because since they don't know what autism is and there are not a lot of resources out for them," Hassan said.
Hassan hopes to be that resource to get families the help they need.
Parents can call St. David's at 612-548-8700 to start the assessment process.