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A Priory Adult Care autism specialist has been involved with the development a UK branch of an existing Ghanaian autism charity after an eye opening visit to the West African country.

Sue Hatton, who works as an autism advisor at Priory Adult Care, has been involved with the set up of the Hand In Hand UK charity which aims to raise funds and awareness for the Hand In Hand community in Nkoranza, Ghana.

Many people in rural Africa view disabilities as a curse and often children with physical or learning disabilities, some of whom also have autism, are abandoned. Hand in Hand provides housing, food and care as well as supporting those brought up in the community to live independently when they get older.

Sue was first made aware of the cause seven years ago when her daughter visited Ghana (now one of the two UK Directors of the Charity) and discovered the community on her travels and found no understanding of autism.

Sue has now been to Ghana three times to work with them and impart her skills and knowledge of caring for people with autism.

She said: “Hand In Hand is a community that looks after over 80 disabled and abandoned children in Ghana.

“What they aim to do is give all the members of the community a sense of acceptance and family and offer them genuine learning and employment opportunities.

“Most importantly of all though, Hand In Hand provides the kind of love and stability that every child deserves.

“The community was initially founded by Dutch doctor Ineke Bosman but it is now being managed by Ghanaian people on a day to day basis under the direction of another Dutch Doctor and his wife who is an educationalist – Ab and Jeanette Van Galen and in fact of one their aims is to help make the community self sufficient.

“They do this through making goods in their workshop. Goods such as jewellery, beads and cloth are all made and sold on site.

“All the children have had very difficult starts to their lives but the work I have seen being done truly makes a huge difference and is life changing. This is why it is so important that Hand In Hand UK continues to build awareness in this country and raises some much needed funds”

A teacher by profession, Sue trained in the mid seventies. Since then she has worked in special and mainstream education, including 12 years in Further Education, setting up courses for people with learning disabilities and autism. She has also provided support to help people with Asperger's Syndrome and High Functioning Autism cope socially and complete A levels and degree courses.

Since joining Priory Adult Care, Sue has designed and helped to implement a training programme that provides every member of staff with a real understanding of austistic spectrum conditions, regardless of their previous experience.

Full details of Hand In Hand UK and the Ghanaian community can be found at http://www.handinhanduk.org

For more information on the specialist services Priory Adult Care can offer, please call the enquiries and referrals team on 0808 208 2147 or click here to make an enquiry.