1124. Nura Aabe
Nura Aabe, from Bristol, is the founder of ‘Autism Independence’, a community organisation which aims to tackle the stigma of autism and raise awareness of it amongst the British Somali community.
Following her son’s diagnosis with autism, Nura experienced language, cultural and community barriers, divided between professionals’ complex opinions and a community whose language had no word for autism. This inspired Nura to found ‘Autism Independence’ which works with families and local authorities to help transform the lives of children with autism by eliminating stigma while mentoring parents to engage with the system to achieve the best outcome for their children. She has created a network of 50 families, giving a voice to a before underrepresented ethnic community. She has also published papers and shared her story in public talks and a short play created in cooperation with other Somali women from the UK and the Netherlands.
In a personal letter to Nura, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Through ‘Autism Independence’ you have bravely drawn on your own experiences to help improve support for children with autism by breaking cultural, language and community barriers. You should feel very proud for having created an organisation that not only is eliminating the stigma, but also helping bridge the gap between parents and professionals. I wish you well as you continue your important work.”
“I am very humbled and overwhelmed my work has been recognised by the Prime Minister for making positive changes in our community. When my son Zak was diagnosed, I had never heard of autism. I was stigmatised, isolated and very lonely, and was expected to hide my son. My love for Zak kept me going and inspired me to reach new heights that led me setting up ‘Autism Independence (AI)’. Today ‘Autism Independence’ supports over 75 families from marginalised communities that are directly impacted my autism. We work with practitioners in education, social care and the health services to deliver culturally sensitive support for families affected by autism from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. We provide tailored support and resources for families, and liaise with health and social services to ensure those affected by autism are given the support they require to reach their potential. I never thought dealing with the unknown would lead to changing other people’s lives and would enable me to give Zak a voice. Thank your Prime Minister.”