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Awards and Recognitions

SLAS Director receiving Point of Light award which is awarded by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll.

The impact of SLAS has been widely recognised, as SLAS continues to plug the gap of developmental disabilities in Sierra Leone. 

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Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals in reaching out to thousands of children and their families across the country. Your generous donation will fund our mission.

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Who We Are


How Sierra Leone Autistic Society Began

Sierra Leone Autistic Society (SLAS) started in 2014 as a Community Based Organisation (CBO) with its main aim of sensitisation. A family from the UK came to Sierra Leone with their daughter who was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), after visiting every secondary school in the capital city of Freetown, as well as the ministry of education, they realised that there was no school that could meet their child’s needs, and no effective service for people with ASD and other developmental disabilities in the whole country. It was quickly realised that the work needed to expand, and as such, SLAS became a national Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in 2017.

SLAS is founded by two women (Mary Penn-Timity and Alice Browne); Mary is a dual citizen of Sierra Leone/UK . She has a BSC (Hons) in Pharmacology with immunology, Post-graduate certificate in Analytical with forensic chemistry and Masters in Social Work with specialisation in mental health as well as children and families and also a mum to a child with severe autism. Alice is also a dual citizen of Sierra Leone/USA. She received her BS in Psychology, Masters in Social Work with primary concentration of clinical and secondary concentration of Management and Community Organisation (MACO) with specialisation in families and children. She is also a License mental health therapist who has experience of working in different settings.

They are both very passionate about the mental well being of the child and adolescent population as well as education. Because of their beliefs and passion, they opened up the first inclusive school for children with developmental disabilities. Browne- Penn Special Education school (BPSS) located in Wellington, Freetown Sierra Leone. They believe that “Every child matters” and together, they believe they can make a difference in Sierra Leone with their vast knowledge and expertise they have in Mental Health especially working with children with special needs and disabilities. Together, both Mary and Alice have experience of working with children with developmental disabilities (particularly those with autism), their families and care givers in various settings.


Mission Statement

The mission statement of the organisation is to enhance the well being of people living with  disabilities (particularly developmental disabilities), their parents and caregivers through advocacy, empowerment, research, training and bio psycho-social (health, psychological and social), as well as educational support.

Motto: Put the Ability into Disability

What is Autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication.*

We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges.

There is currently no known cause of autism , and autism is often accompanied by medical issues such as:

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disturbances

Many people with autism also have sensory issues. These can include aversions to certain sights, sounds and other sensations.

Autism’s hallmark signs usually appear by age 2 to 3. Often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier.

· In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They included autism spectrum disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome


Learn the Signs

One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching.

What are the signs of autism?

The timing and severity of autism’s early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, symptoms become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.

Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don’t have autism show a few. That’s why professional evaluation is crucial.

The following "red flags" may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your paediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:

By 6 months

  • Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging      expressions.
  • Limited or no eye contact.

By 9 months

  • Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles      or other facial expressions

By 12 months

  • Little or no babbling
  • Little or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing,      showing, reaching or waving
  • Little or no response to name.

By 16 months

  • Very few or no words.

By 24 months

  • Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not      including imitating or repeating)

At any age

  • Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social      skills
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Persistent preference for solitude
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
  • Delayed language development
  • Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
  • Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Restricted interests
  • Repetitive behaviours (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
  • Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes,      textures, lights and/or color

Autism Speaks (

Autism is not related to:

· Witchcraft

· Devil/Demonic Possession

· Polygamy

· Cheating Wives


Sierra Leone Autistic Society aids access to:

• Research

• Assessment and diagnostics

• Educational support: Browne-Penn Special Education School (BPSS)

• Nationwide Sensitisation 

• Training

• Health



Our campaign on Autism 

School Sensitisation

Our experiences enable us to offer effective monthly school visits and give talks to schools about autism, encourage children to treat everyone the same and also how to look after and care for those with disabilities.


Medical Support

Medical Support

Our Doctor giving medical support to children in Makeni

Medical support for children. Our doctor giving treatment and medicine to children during parent support group.


SLAS Trainings


SLAS Trainings

Our Projects

Sierra Leone Inclusion Project (SLIP)

Inclusive play time of disable and non-disable children playing, bringing communities together

Disability Africa (DA): Our partner organisation in the UK provides wide range of services for individuals with disabilities. SLAS and DA are working together in implementing the Sierra Leone Inclusion Project in Freetown and Makeni. 

Browne-Penn Special School


Art class in Browne-Penn, children engaged in all sort of art activities, in this photo, children were getting ready to display their artistic potential at the British Council on World Autism Day, where they displayed their talents (art works) during their art exhibition. 

Our Partners and Supporters

  • British council
  • Disability Africa Uk
  • QueensMill School London
  • Stepping Forward Uk
  • International Women's Club
  • The Freetown Society
  • Ravera Children Rehabilitation Centre
  • Enable the Children
  • The National Railway Museum (Cline Town Freetown, Sierra Leone) 

Our Partners and supporters provide trainings, resources (play and teaching resources), as well as funds sometimes to do key activities. 

We are registered with key Government Ministries as we work to complement Government's efforts. 

Our Partners and Supporters


Contact Us

Send Message

Please contact us with any questions.

32 Obama, off Regent Road, Grafton. Sierra Leone

+23299688984 or +23279076627


Open today

09:00 – 17:00

You can contact us at any time with any question you may have