We Belong Here: Somali Families

Told by Amina and Izhar

Mental Health Practitioners at Community-Based Autism Day Treatment Program for East African families

Amina and Izhar

Somali parents think if your child is not talking, maybe they’ll start talking later.

I go into their homes and I take off my shoes, chit chat, have tea and they pour their heart out to me. I listen to their struggles.

In Somali, there is no word for autism. 

I can say, “I will show you and we will learn together how to take your child to the park. You don’t have to be embarrassed.”

We are the bridge to help parents trust and feel safe. Every day I learn something new from a parent and the staff, and I am part of our community.

When I go to the houses, I say I am collecting information to see what we can do for your child and how you can access resources. 

I am translating more than words.

I am translating complicated ideas like mental health and what this program means for their child without cutting the meaning out. I tell families they are coming to a place where they won’t get lost.

We tell parents, “Everything in the program is designed just for you. You can feel safe.”


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