Autism Wonders was established in November 2020 with a mission of enhancing the overall well-being of families impacted by Autism through its three unique program areas; the Autism Wonders Family Support groups, the NK Autism Wonders Foundation, and the Autism Wonderland Childcare program (coming up soon). These organization currently serves several autism-impacted families and individuals within and the United States, Canada, Africa and the Caribbean.
Our mission is to enhance the overall well-being of families impacted by Autism in a culturally sensitive manner
Our vision is to bring out the abilities and wonders of Autism by creating a well-informed, accepting, supporting, resource-filled, and stigma-free society.
The history and story behind Autism Wonders Inc
Autism Wonde Inc was founded by Afua Amoah Kubiti, a Ghanaian immigrant whose child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at age 3. Long before her son’s official diagnosis, Afua could tell something was different about her son. He was not babbling at 18 months; he rarely made eye contact and would barely respond to his name. Initially, Afua held off from seeking professional help for many cultural reasons. For one, following through with such a diagnostic procedure/assessment was widely interpreted by her culture as “asking for the diagnosis or illness”. However, she eventually had her son evaluated by a specialist after series of contemplations, and he was diagnosed with ASD. Following the diagnosis, Afua remained in denial for a long time. As she would put it, “it was one of the most challenging and frustrating times for me and my family.” She kept asking herself questions like, “Are you truly accepting this diagnosis for your son?”, “Don’t you think he will grow out of this?”, “What are people going to think of you and your family?” In addition to the denial were feelings of shame, blame, and guilt, knowing how her culture perceives Autism. Coming from an African cultural background where there is little knowledge of Autism, and the condition widely considered a taboo, a curse, or a punishment, she wondered how the community would perceive and treat her family. Understandably, it became difficult for Afua to open up to friends and families about her son’s conditions. She resorted to what she describes as “masking,” a situation where she would pretend everything was fine with her son and even lie to friends and family to cover up her son’s unusual behaviors. The few positive relationships that she and her husband had built with other immigrant families had to be cut off to prevent judgments and stereotyped comments. It was almost like the family had been ostracized from their community and trapped in a cultural box.
As an immigrant with minimal connections and support in the United States, coupled with the “cultural box” she and her family suddenly found themselves in, Afua struggled to raise her autistic son. With her own little research, some resource navigations, and help from her son’s social worker, she secured therapeutic services for her son. Still, it was a constant struggle to juggle the numerous therapy appointments with work and other family responsibilities. Meanwhile, the stress from the isolation worsened. The family began excluding themselves from community events and drew farther away from people within their social circles. During this time, Afua reluctantly joined a local autism parent support group at the insistence of her son’s social worker. She attended the support group meetings hoping she wouldn’t run into any known face from the community. Initially, she found the group to be beneficial as far as providing autism education and resources. With time, she realized some missing components in the group, including the lack of emotional support and a sense of cultural belongingness. A few months after joining the group, Afua stopped attending the group meetings.
With nowhere else to turn for support, the autism journey increasingly became lonely, tiring, depressing, and overwhelming. Afua wondered if other immigrant families were going through similar experiences. She and her family eventually became tired of hiding and being in isolation. They started opening up about their son’s autism diagnosis and gradually shared their struggles and stories with some of their trusted church members, close friends, and other people within their social circles. It was the best decision the family ever made at the time. They found so much relief, healing, and inner peace. A few family members and friends connected them to other immigrant families who were also impacted by Autism. They all shared similar stories that appeared to follow the same trajectories: the stigma, the denial, the shame, the guilt, the disconnection, and the frustration. Afua realized most of these families had no clue where and how to obtain services for their children after receiving their diagnosis. It also became increasingly clear that there were gaps between the services these immigrant families were receiving and what they could potentially access. In navigating the system and looking for resources for her son, Afua had gained a lot of experience and insight that enabled her to support other ASD families to access services and resources.
Even in her struggles through the autism journey, Afua became very worried and empathized with other autism-impacted families, particularly those living in low-income countries. As she would put it, “Thinking of how challenging the autism journey is for me, even as a parent living in a country with access to professional help and funding resources, it made me sick to think of how extremely challenging it would be for autism parents living in less privileged parts of the world.” She wondered how she could support such families.
In summer 2020, Afua and her husband connected with a Canadian-based family friend who also had a child with Autism. They discussed the idea of establishing an organization that would support immigrant families in the diaspora as well as families living in under-developed countries impacted by Autism. On November 3rd, 2020, Autism Wonders Inc was officially incorporated in the State of Georgia and subsequently obtained a 501c3 tax-exempt status in January 2022.
As a non-profit organization, Autism Wonders Inc continues to work diligently to improve the overall well-being of Autism-impacted African and Caribbean families living across the world in a culturally sensitive manner through education, de-stigmatization, support, resource provision, and empowerment. It continues to be innovative and progressive in seeking opportunities and mobilizing resources to achieve its mission and vision