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Autism Awareness Event

“Yusuf Can’t Talk” – one woman show exploring the difficulties of bringing up a child with Autism

 Barking and Dagenham Somali Women’s Association in partnership with Autism Independence will be showcasing an influential play called “Yusuf Can’t Talk”. This original, devised one woman show is a collaboration between Bristol based acta community theatre and Autism Independence and will be touring to London on 26th of January 2017 at Ripple Hall Barking Essex IG11 7FN.

The play aims to shed light on the stigma of Autism in the Somali community.

There are high rates of Autism within the Somali community. According to Barking and Dagenham Somali Women’s Association, 200 parents and carers within their service group have children with Autism.

There is no word to describe Autism in the Somali language. Limited awareness and understanding of the condition within the Somali community is affecting the ability of parents to seek suitable support, preventing their children from gaining the opportunity to live and learn in a suitable environment with their families and community.

Four years ago, acta were approached by Nura Aabe (founder of Autism Independence and performer) about creating a show to raise awareness around autism in the Somali community.

acta worked closely with 12 Somali women from her group, who all had children with autism, supporting them to share their stories and transform them into a show, Yusuf Can’t Talk. It first performed at the actacentre, Bristol in November 2014. With support from the Wellcome Trust, Yusuf Can’t Talk, has been developed into a one-woman show, touring to 4 cities across the UK.

Nura Aabe has been working tirelessly to help end the stigma of Autism is helping Somali families nationally who are struggling to understand the condition, as well as finding new ways of communicating with their children. Both organisations have partnered up in promoting the play, which sheds light on Nura Aabe’s own experience of having a child with Autism and accessing the right services.

Nura said “Being a parent of an Autistic child is challenging but, being a Somali parent of a child with Autism, in a community with high rates of the condition but with no word to describe it… It can seem like there is nowhere to turn.”

Zahra Ibrahim, Managing Director of BDSWA said “We have identified growing need for us to engage and support parents with children with additional needs to access main stream services, as early intervention is so important for the young person’s development, and sometimes we are first point of contact for some families for referral, we are happy to host the tour and will continue to work with Nura Aabe to inspire other parent carers”


Notes to Editor:

  1. Barking and Dagenham Somali Women’s Association (BDSWA) is registered as a company limited by guarantee and charity registered [2013]. It has five trustees and two part time staff. The charity is dedicated to improve health and wellness of women and their families in East London. More info
  2. Autism Independence now runs drop in sessions every week and monthly activities for parents and children. The organisation will support mainly families who have limited access to services and from disadvantage communities.  Every child and every family deserves a voice that provides them with quality of life.

The aim of the organisation is to provide support to families out there who currently have little support or whom are isolated.  We aim to show them that they are not the only one, and that it is very possible to their children to make progress, even though they may have autism.

“I believe we can communicate with our children no matter what if we show them that we love them and that we join them whatever makes them smile, which interprets: I love you for who you are”.

Future plans for the organisation is to run courses, raise awareness, operate across the UK, deliver cultural awareness trainings for professionals, building ways to bring communities together, work with schools, NHS, Special Educational Needs departments and contributing to national and international research for autism.

For more information about Autism Independence – or facebook Autism Independence.

  1. The Council of Somali Organisations was launched in June 2011 as a second tier (or umbrella) agency, to provide infrastructure support to Somali led community organisations, and to provide a platform to address issues affecting the Somali community in London and at a regional and national level, more info contact CSO 020 7832 5844
  1. acta uses the power of theatre to change people’s lives. We do this by involving people in creating their own original plays and performance projects. Our unique ability to actively involve the hardest to reach sections of society is universally admired and respected.

We believe that theatre belongs to everyone, and everyone has a story to tell. Their voices are often not heard, so acta creates a place where everyone’s story matters, where individual opinions and experiences count, and are valued by others. We enable communities to share their stories, and engage at least 3 out of 4 audience members who rarely attend theatre. Our projects create positive change in individuals, raising aspirations and improving skills, confidence, self-worth & employability; we enable people to work together, make theatre and have fun.

For more information about acta – or call 0117 9532448

  1. For more information and booking, please visit,

Additional Information –  

Nura Aabe

Nura Aabe is a mother of 4 children, she came to this country at the age of 8 years from Somalia. Nura’s first child Zak has autism. Zak was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 1/2 years old.  Nura had no idea what autism meant.  It was very difficult for Nura to access mainstream services due to the nature of the diagnosis, but also culture barriers and lack of education around autism.  Nura’s family and friends did not believe at the time there was such thing as autism.

Zak inspired Nura to go back to further education and she is now completing her degree in Early Childhood studies.  She also has completed courses about her sons diagnosed, PTLLS lever 4 course through the Lloyds social entrepreneurs. BTEC business management, Leadership level 2 course, Makaton sign language course level 1 & 2, Essential living skills course, Social Skills course and Autism one conference in Chicago.


Their journey which was once the most difficult time a mother can go through with her child, has now lead Nura to set up an organisation that supports parents who Nura mirrors her journey through them.


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