In a move aimed to transform autism detection and better support low-resourced communities, Bloom Buddy, in partnership with Autism Speaks and the Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Conditions at the University of Lagos, has launched the Nigerian Autism Screening Questionnaire (NASQ) web app. This first-ever, freely accessible online tool for parents and caregivers in Nigeria heralds a new era in early autism detection and intervention.
The NASQ (designed and solely owned by Autism Speaks) provides a novel tool for detecting autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects more than 1% of people globally and may have a higher prevalence in Africa, where countries like Nigeria have reported a rate of approximately one in 10 children with developmental disabilities.
Following six years of development and testing, with proven success in communities, the NASQ aims to be an indispensable tool for early autism detection. It is also in its intermediate development stages as a screening instrument, with the second phase of its validation study ongoing.
The accessibility of the NASQ web app presents a significant benefit—its online availability and zero cost permit a wider reach for early screening for more children. This tool alerts parents and caregivers to their children’s autism symptoms and encourages them to speak with their healthcare providers and explore appropriate services and supports, potentially altering the life trajectory of countless children.
The tool marks an important step forward in enhancing autism detection in Nigeria, where the practice of incorporating neurological developmental screenings into regular health assessments for children under two is not yet established. The NASQ could potentially be a critical solution to address this gap in developmental healthcare provision.
The implications of NASQ are profound. It offers the possibility of earlier identification, support and intervention for children with autism at a stage when it can have the most impact. It is more than just an innovative tool; it is a beacon of hope for communities with limited access to autism assessment and diagnosis, and it could very well set the benchmark for similar initiatives globally in low-resourced communities.
The web app is now available to all Nigerians on the Bloom Buddy website for in-app use on phones, tablets and computers. In advancing Nigeria's position as a frontrunner in the field of autism screening and support, Autism Speaks is fulfilling its mission to create a more inclusive world for all people with autism.
Sola Fatoba, CEO of Bloom Buddy, said, "Our alliance with Autism Speaks in bringing this transformative tool to Nigerians fills us with immense pride. Our mission is to equip families with dependable, readily available resources, to provide critical support amidst the intricacies of navigating autism care."
Andy Shih, chief science officer at Autism Speaks, added, "The launch of the NASQ web app underscores Autism Speaks' dedication to providing accessible and effective autism screening tools, particularly in underserved regions. Through our partnership with Bloom Buddy and researchers in Nigeria, we have developed an e-version of a scientifically validated, culturally sensitive tool to help address Nigeria's needs. "
For more information about the NASQ web app, visit the Bloom Buddy website at www.thebloombuddy.com/nasq.
About Bloom Buddy
Bloom Buddy is a health tech company dedicated to creating an accessible ecosystem for families to access care for mental, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental issues. With its innovative digital solutions, Bloom Buddy aims to bridge the gap between healthcare providers and those in need of their services.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to creating an inclusive world for all individuals with autism throughout their lifespan. We do this through advocacy, services, supports, research and innovation, and advances in care for autistic individuals and their families. To find resources, join an event or make a donation, go to www.AutismSpeaks.org. Learn more by following @AutismSpeaks on Facebook, X, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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