The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a digital training programme for Autistic children in the run-up to World Autism Day on April 2. The e-version of the training programme is being rolled out after a successful face-to-face format pilot in more than 30 countries including Kenya, Brazil, India and Italy.
The program was created with the support of Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization, and is primarily designed to be implemented by non-specialist providers, which is especially beneficial in low-resource settings.
The program is designed to equip caregivers and parents with skills to boost the well-being and development of children with Autism and other developmental disabilities.
“In so many parts of the world, particularly – but not only – in low-income settings, people looking after autistic children often lack access to the information and services they need,” said Dr Chiara Servili, an expert in the mental health and brain health of children and adolescents at the World Health Organization.
“During the pilot phase, the Caregiver Skills Training programme equipped families in a wide range of community settings with the knowledge and skills to better understand and engage with their children with developmental delays or disabilities.”
The digital training comprises pre-recorded educational sessions on themes such as using daily routines as chances for children to learn, connecting with children via play, and problem-solving. The course also includes sessions to help caregivers improve their own well-being while incorporating quick tip videos, quizzes and reminders to support sustained learning.
The training is designed to allow caregivers to fit the courses into their schedule and learn at their own pace.
The introduction of the digital program will be followed by the release of manuals to complement the training program’s in-person sessions later in April.
The manuals, which are meant for training facilitators, comprise lessons learned over five years of pilot training and will be used to provide the training through demonstrations, coaching, and group discussions.
Participants in the program will be able to obtain direct insight from trained community members and other families, allowing them to enhance their local support network.