icddr,b’s Technical Training Unit, in partnership with the Foundation for Advancement of Innovations in Technology and Health, Bangladesh (faith Bangladesh) organised a workshop for the parents and caregivers of children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders).
The foundation, called “Autism Spectrum Disorders: Improving Children’s Ability to Talk and Mix with Peers” is a continuation of therapeutic practice programmes that are held at icddr,b to empower people who are raising children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), read a press release.
While ASD in general is recognised in Bangladesh, the number of cases is increasing according to the Institute for Paediatric Neurodisorder & Autism. Bangladesh Ministry of Social Welfare estimates that there are more than 1.4 million people with ASD in Bangladesh, which makes it roughly one in every 500 children. Therefore, there is a great need for information and advice.
The workshop, organised on February 8, was designed to strengthen communication skills of each child, allowing them to reach their full potential.
Dr Aftab Uddin, head of the Technical Training Unit at icddr,b welcomed the audience saying, “Tackling Autism Spectrum Disorder requires parents, providers, and policy-makers to be aware about the nature of the condition. The brunt however, is borne by the parents of these special children as they spend 24/7 with them. Therefore, empowering parents and caregivers is as essential as educating our society."
Maj Gen (retd) Md Shafiq-ul-Islam, the special guest for the occasion and executive director of the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) emphasized on the importance of therapeutic interventions and related CRP’s experience in addressing neurodevelopmental disorders.
Syed Monjurul Islam, deputy executive director of icddr,b said: “icddr,b has always led health innovation in Bangladesh, and we are pleased to be part of the team providing highly impactful guidance to families with a child who has ASD.”
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat in a written message commended the programme and highlighted two important factors for creating a positive environment for children with ASD.
She said: “It is important to fight the stigma associated with all neurodevelopmental Disorders, or NDDs. This prevents people from seeking help to mitigate the effects of autism and other NDDs and robs families and communities of the ability to appreciate the talents and love of that child. Schools also play a role in helping those with NDDs learn crucial life skills as well as learn and demonstrate respect, kindness, friendship, and support.”
She added that the US government and the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education of Bangladesh have collaborated to develop a new early grade reading program worth over Tk400 crore – one which will focus on reaching children with disabilities.
Executive Director of faith Bangladesh Nilufer Ahmed Karim urged the government to allocate more resources, saying: "Catering to the needs of special children is a multidisciplinary and multipurpose task. Stakeholders from public as well as private NGOs and INGOs need to come forward along with donors to build a reliable partnership and work together to address the growing problem of ASD in Bangladesh".
Three workshops have taken place over the last year: “Managing children with Behavioural Problems at Home Applying Sensory Integration”, “Training on sensory processing and sensory integration: understanding and using the perspective”, and “Sensory Integration Intervention (SII) for Children with Developmental Disabilities”, significantly benefiting their participants, mainly parents and caregivers.
Malvika Samni, founder director of SOCH India facilitated the workshop, which was attended by 100 parents and caregivers of children with ASD.