A MASTERS student from the University of South Wales’ Caerleon campus has set up a school for autistic children in his home country of Uganda.
Fredrick Sembatya, who will graduate with an MA in autism in September, devotes his time to raising awareness of autism in the East African country, where little is known about the spectrum disorder.
He teaches parents the skills and interventions they can use with their children by organising workshops and providing them with resources, as well as writing articles in the local press and regularly appearing on TV shows to talk about autism.
Mr Sembatya, 34, is currently writing a guide for parents and guardians as well as medical professionals.
He has now helped several children and young adults, age three to 21, with special needs education, behavioural management, social skills training and self-help skills, as well as speech, language and communication.
Many of them are now communicating well, with some going to mainstream school.
“I feel blessed whenever I change the life of someone with autism,” said Mr Sembatya, who won a scholarship to study for his Masters and is trying to raise money to fly home to attend his graduation in September.
“I hope that my guide will give direction to parents, teachers and medical professionals in Uganda on how to work with autistic children and young adults.”
The University of South Wales is one of the only institutions in the UK to offer a masters degree in autism.
“Autism is one of the most challenging conditions in the world, with no known cause or cure,” said Mr Sembatya. “These challenges leave communities such as those in Uganda with very few people knowing about autism, who are left with no choice but to rely on traditional or non-evidence based approaches to define, diagnose and manage it.
““That is why it is vitally important that more is done to educate communities about autism and prevent parents from using the services of ‘witch doctors’ for spiritual interventions.
“I am so grateful to the University for shaping my career and my future. My studies have enabled me to change the lives of people with autism as well as their families.”
Mr Sembatya and his students will appear on NTV television next month when they take part in a sports gala.
For more information on Frederick’s work, visit the website teensandtotscenter.co.ug or email firstname.lastname@example.org.