‘Autism not prevalent in Seychelles’


“With regards to the article published in the Seychelles Nation today, 3rd August, titled 'First Lady in talks to step up autism advocacy campaign', I feel that the statistics attributed to me were taken out of context and I would be grateful for the opportunity to clarify.

During my interview, which was conducted in Creole, I meant to say that out of about 200 odd children referred to the Early Childhood Intervention Centre at English River Clinic, in a year, 2-6 of them could be diagnosed with possibly having the condition. The article implies that this statistic refers to the general prevalence in the country, which would be grossly inaccurate. The incidence of autism in Seychelles has not been shown to be more than in any other countries around the world, and in the USA it is an estimated 3.5 in every 1000 children.

Data here has not yet been analysed to elicit an actual rate in Seychelles, which is why the Autism Awareness Project spearheaded by First Lady Natalie Michel is so important.

From the children seen at the Early Childhood Intervention Centre, since 2008, I would estimate that around 3-6 children per year, may be found to have some of the symptoms of the Autism Spectrum of Disorder between the ages of 2.5 and 10 years of age. In the first year at the centre we had over 300 referrals and out of those about 5 showed signs of possible autism.

The statement made in the Nation would mean autism is extremely prevalent in Seychelles and that is not true.

We are more aware of the diagnosis today and over the last few years we actively look for signs in the children referred.  We believe it was under diagnosed in the past and now, with tools being made available for more specific diagnoses, we shall get intervention services to the children who need them, much earlier.

I thank you in advance for your assistance in clarifying this information to your readers.”