Support for Children with Autism in Tajikistan

by IRODA 'Parents of Children with Autism Initiative'
Parent meeting at IRODA
Parent meeting at IRODA

IRODA was started by a group of parents who understand the challenges that can arise when parenting a child with autism.  Whenever possible IRODA looks for opportunities to support parents in this role.  Recently we were thankful to have a visiting medical professional from the UK who is also a parent of a child with autism himself.  He was able to meet with parents connected with IRODA and share from his own personal experience as well as his professional background.

Time spent discussing stress-management strategies and suggesting ways parents could help themselves and help each other was of great value.  IRODA hopes to continue to facilitate opportunities for parents to get the support they need while also reaching out to one another.  We are grateful for your partnership with IRODA that enables us to continue to find new ways to help children with autism and their parents in Tajikistan.  

Out and about in the city...
Out and about in the city...

April has become globally recognized as Autism Awareness Month. For the last 6 years IRODA has made a focused effort in the month of April to increase understanding of autism amongst the general public. Prior to IRODA beginning it’s work here there was very little knowledge of autism amongst the medical profession and it was difficult for people with autism and their families to find acceptance or understanding within Tajik society.

As well as undertaking public awareness campaigns IRODA has created opportunities for families and their children with autism to participate in activities together within the community. It can be difficult for families to do this on their own when they feel a lack of support or acceptance when out in public with their child. But together families and children with autism have had lots of new and positive experiences in the community.

This April a group of volunteers in Tajikistan initiated a bike ride through the city to raise awareness about autism and IRODA’s work. It has been exciting to see other groups within Tajik society coming alongside IRODA to help increase understanding and work towards changing societal attitudes.

Thank you for your support of IRODA’s work in Tajikistan that is promoting greater awareness of autism and creating new opportunities for children adn with families. 

Along with the everyday work that IRODA does with children with autism and their families we are always looking for opportunities to train others. Over the last few years IRODA has been working towards having input into University courses. Previously doctors and teachers have graduated from University with no knowledge of autism and how it may impact on children that they see or teach.

It has been an exciting step forward for IRODA staff to recently be invited to give lectures on autism to teaching and medical students. The hope is that this information will later be incorporated into University courses and that future students will graduate with knowledge and skills to work effectively with people with autism.  

As with much of IRODA's work time and resources are required for building relationships with decision makers in areas such as the University sector. We greatly appreciate your on-going support that allows the IRODA staff to invest in opportunities such as the work with the University, that we hope in time will lead to a generation of skilled, supportive and understanding professionals equipped to make a difference in the lives of people with autism in Tajikistan.   

Over the last 5 years IRODA has worked hard to see children with autism identified as early as possible, and given access to learning opportunities and support appropriate for their needs.  In recent times there has been an increasing number of children with autism being involved with IRODA’s work from a young age.  It has been pleasing to see these families getting support early on and avoiding some of the confusion and stress that a misdiagnosis or lack of services creates. 

IRODA staff are continually seeking to learn how best to support children and families in the early years.  Recently new approaches have been introduced in the early childhood program to incorporate staff visiting children and families at home, a stronger emphasis on workers partnering with parents to develop strategies to address the challenges they face, and a focus on opportunities for learning within the child’s everyday environments.

During a recent evaluation of the program more than two thirds of the families involved indicated that the support has significantly increased their confidence for interacting and communicating with their child.  A similar number of families also reported a significant decrease in their anxiety related to coping with their child’s challenging behavior. The majority of families were able to identify new skills and knowledge that they have gained through their involvement in the program.  

IRODA is committed to continually improving the work that it does in order to see the best possible outcomes for children and families.  Thank you for you on-going support that is allowing the organization to grow and develop.  

IRODA staff travel to the regions of Tajikistan
IRODA staff travel to the regions of Tajikistan

Last November, IRODA, with the support of the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Open Society Foundation, was able to train health professionals from around the country in diagnosis and intervention for children with autism.  Recently two IRODA staff travelled to five different regions in Tajikistan to provide mentoring and support to the professionals who had attended the training.  It was pleasing to find that all participants had started to use the new knowledge they gained through the training to identify children with autism.  

As the IRODA staff travelled to the regions they were able to answer questions and give feedback to the participants about the process of diagnosing autism and starting early intervention.  Since the training in November last year there have been 63 children in total diagnosed with autism in the five areas from which professionals were trained.  These children are now receiving support through a local government clinic or non-government organization. 

Since beginning its work in 2008 IRODA has been limited to predominately working with children and families in the capital city of Dushanbe.  It has been exciting that the training conducted last November led to children from around the country receiving an appropriate diagnosis and starting to access support for their learning and development.  IRODA is working towards seeing children with autism from right around the country identified at the earliest possible opportunity and receiving the support that will allow them to reach their full potential.  Your ongoing partnership with IRODA will enable us to continue further training and professional support that will extend the work even further around the nation of Tajikistan.  


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Organization Information

IRODA 'Parents of Children with Autism Initiative'

Location: Dushanbe, Tajikistan - Tajikistan
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Karen Purdie
Dushanbe, Tajikistan

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