Autism initiative in Tajikistan

Iroda

The first official autism trainings were held in Tajikistan in November 2014. As a result, significant progress has been made towards developing effective systems the will ensure children with autism receive an appropriate diagnosis and access to early intervention.

The Tajik Ministry of Health and Social Protection in collaboration with IRODA – Parents of Children with Autism Initiative, a local nongovernment organization, conducted the weeklong training, with support from the Open Society Foundations, the United Nations Children's Fund and WHO.

Until recently, autism has not be recognized or well understood in Tajikistan, which resulted in children being misdiagnosed and without access to appropriate services. Prior to the training, professionals were unable to officially diagnose autism.

Key outcomes of the training and the autism initiative

  • Professionals in all key regional centres of the country are now trained to diagnose autism and have practical skills for providing early intervention.
  • The Ministry started the process of having autism added to the official list of disabling conditions in Tajikistan. 
  • A working group was formed to collaborate with the Ministry on the development of a clinical protocol for diagnosing autism and a system for recording the prevalence of autism in Tajikistan. 
  • Plans for a network of professionals working in the area of autism were made.

48 professionals from both the government and nongovernment sector attended the training. The first 2 days provided participants with an overview of autism and current best practice in relation to diagnosis and intervention. For the final 3 days, participants were divided into 2 streams according to the context in which they were working. 27 participants were trained to administer the autism diagnostic observation schedule (ADOS). The remaining 21 participants were given practical training in intervention strategies for children and young people with autism.

The autism initiative in Tajikistan is supported by WHO's Disability and Rehabilitation Programme, implemented by the Ministry with technical support from WHO.