The end of June saw the completion of another school year in Tajikistan. This year 11 children with autism have also begun a well-deserved summer break after attending school alongside their peers for the very first time. Beginning summer holidays is exciting for any student, but for this group of children the completion of a school year is particularly momentous as it marks the overcoming of many challenges in order to participate at school.
Since commencing its work IRODA has advocated for children with autism to have access to the education system in Tajikistan. Previously a child with autism would be automatically denied the opportunity to enroll at school. However with increases in both knowledge and resources three mainstream schools have started to partner with IRODA and support children with autism to attend school.
Your support of IRODA’s pioneering work in Tajikistan is creating wonderful new opportunities for learning for children with autism. Through your ongoing partnership we look forward to seeing many more children experience the feeling of achievement that comes with the completion of a school year.
In February, IRODA hosted its second annual Central Asia Autism Network (CAAN) conference, which brought together parents and professionals from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. During this three-day event stakeholders participated in training and discussions that will help move the work among people with autism in Central Asia into new and exciting areas. Conference participants benefited greatly from presentations given by guest speakers from Bangladesh, India, and Russia. Likewise, the staff of IRODA left the conference energized: hearing from others who have pioneered improvements in autism care despite facing the same types of challenges that exist in Tajikistan, has brought both a renewed hope and excitement for the future of IRODA.
Immediately following the conference, Tajikistan reached a milestone in the treatment of autism. The national Ministry of Health and IRODA came to an agreement that will allow IRODA to train professionals at the key diagnostic centers in Tajikistan in the administration of an autism diagnostic tool. Since beginning its work in 2010, IRODA has advocated for both official recognition of autism in Tajikistan, and for national use of an evidence-based diagnostic tool for young children. The recent decision from the Ministry of Health has been a great encouragement to the IRODA staff and families who continue to work hard and persevere through many challenges to see the situation for people with autism in their country transformed.
With support from the Ministry of Health and improved processes for diagnosis, IRODA anticipates that the number of children correctly diagnosed with autism at an early age will increase rapidly. Your continued support allows IRODA to provide these services to children and their families in Tajikistan. As IRODA staff and families celebrate milestones and moments that will change the future for people with autism in Tajikistan, we hope that you too can share in the excitement of being part of an organization involved in such ground breaking work.
Thank you once again for your support.
Since the beginning of it’s work IRODA has invested time and energy into raising awareness of Autism in Tajikistan. IRODA has done this in a variety of innovative ways that have captured the attention of the general public and portrayed new and positive messages about Autism and disability in general. The most recent example of this is IRODA’s involvement in a fashion show held on the 3rd of December, the “International Day of People with Disability”.
IRODA partnered with other organisations to host a fashion show that included and celebrated people with disabilities and their family members. Mothers and children from IRODA were part of the spectacular event that brought disability to the forefront in a beautiful and optimistic way that challenged the stigma and negativity that has tended to exist in association with disability in Tajikistan. With the support of local businesses, non-government organisations, the media and well-known Tajik models and personalities the event captured the attention of the general public and contributed the process of societal change that will see people with disabilities included and valued within their communities.
As IRODA takes such opportunities to increase awareness and promote the positive ways in which children with Autism can be involved in their local communities and increased numbers of families want to be involved in IRODA’s work. Currently there are more children known to IRODA than there is time, staffing and resources to support them. Please consider if you can continue to partner with IRODA by donating via the GlobalGiving site so that more children and their families benefit from the support, understanding and opportunities that IRODA can offer.
Mansur is a bright, quiet-natured 12-year-old boy who lives in Tajikistan with his family. Mansur loves playing on the computer, listening to music, and going to the cinema and the park. He has a great memory for pictures and words, and is a quick learner. For much of his life though, Mansur has not had the opportunities that other boys his age have. This is because Mansur has Autism.
Until very recently, Autism has been entirely unrecognized in Tajikistan. Children with Autism have often been misdiagnosed and prescribed inappropriate treatment, which is frequently detrimental to their development. The majority of the time, children with Autism have spent most of their days at home, without appropriate educational opportunities or the chance to be with other children their age.
Fortunately for Mansur, his mother was one of the parents involved in starting “IRODA – Parents of Children with Autism Initiative”. In 2010 a group of parents, who had gone to great lengths to seek out the appropriate diagnosis for their children, responded to the lack of services and support by forming IRODA. Since then, the organization has been pioneering work in Tajikistan that aims to see that people with Autism are treated with dignity and respect, as valued and contributing members of their communities.
Thanks to the determination of Mansur’s mother and the innovative work of IRODA, the youngster now attends the local school with his peers. He also receives regular support from trained staff at the IRODA Centre to help with his learning and ability to cope with the challenges that Autism can bring. Since getting involved in IRODA’s work , Mansur has made significant gains in both his independence and academic skills. Five years ago it was stressful and difficult for him to leave the familiar environment of the family home. This year he attended and enjoyed IRODA’s first summer camp. Involvement with IRODA has equipped Mansur and his family with both the skills and confidence to open up Mansur’s world through new opportunities.
IRODA’s work has provided families with Autism-specific training and up-to-date information. Mansur’s mother is grateful for the new knowledge and abilities that this has given her, and the greater understanding of Autism that it has brought to all of the family members. Mansur’s siblings are now more involved in his learning and development, and the whole family has benefited practically and emotionally from the support of IRODA’s services.
Mansur’s future, like that of the other children with Autism recently identified in Tajikistan, has been made brighter through the formation of an organization dedicated to ensuring that people with Autism experience equal rights and opportunities. Thanks to your support, IRODA is transforming the lives of children with Autism and their families by providing them with new knowledge, skills, and opportunities.
The summer was off to an exciting start with children and families from IRODA participating in the first formal children’s conference devoted to disability issues in Tajikistan. IRODA is part of a national coalition of parents of children with disabilities. With the support of UNICEF and the Hyatt Regency in Dushanbe, the coalition organized this opportunity for children with disabilities, their siblings, and friends to come together and share about themselves, their dreams, achievements, and challenges. The conference gave a strong message about the equal rights of all children and the common bonds that can exist despite differences. IRODA is committed to seeing children with Autism valued and accepted within Tajik society and events such as these are a wonderful way for new and positive messages to be portrayed.
Also this summer, IRODA joined with another parent-led organization to host a summer camp - the first time that the children with Autism have had the opportunity to attend such a camp in Tajikistan. The participating families went to a beautiful area outside the city where they could enjoy the fresh air, slightly cooler weather, and lots of new experiences together. The camp gave the children with Autism the opportunity to take part in summer activities like other children around them – swimming, games, art, camping and sharing meals.
IRODA continues to proactively seek opportunities for children with Autism to participate fully in family and community life. Already this summer these two events have been wonderful ways to promote this goal. Thank you for your support of IRODA’s work and for being part of providing new and exciting opportunities like these for children with Autism in Tajikistan.
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