Support for Children with Autism in Tajikistan

by IRODA 'Parents of Children with Autism Initiative'

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.  

Lots to learn in the kitchen...
Lots to learn in the kitchen...

As IRODA has grown as an organization over the last 5 years the children that they been working with have also grown up! The committed IRODA staff are continually looking for ways in which to encourage the children and young people that they work with to gain new skills. A recent addition to the space in which IRODA works with young people with autism has been a kitchen.  This is providing great opportunities for those who attend IRODA’s programs to develop some basic cooking skills.  With the support of IRODA staff they are learning the steps that are involved in preparing food, as well as learning to follow instructions and work together.  As they do this there is the added motivation and reward of being able to eat what they’ve cooked!

Many of the young people IRODA is working with have spent a significant part of their childhood without opportunities to attend school or be involved in their local communities.  IRODA is committed to seeing these young people develop new skills and have the chance to participate alongside others in family and community life.  The new kitchen at IRODA is just one way in which young people can gain skills for life within a supportive and understanding environment.  Your on-going support of IRODA’s work is allowing us to continue to create new opportunities and experiences for children and young people with autism in Tajikistan.  Thank you!



Training in
Training in 'Autism Diagnosis & Intervention'

2014 ended on a wonderful note for IRODA’s work in Tajikistan. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, and with support of the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Open Society Foundation IRODA hosted a week of training on ‘Autism Diagnosis and Intervention’. This was the first opportunity IRODA has had to train doctors within the government health system on the diagnosis of autism. It was also the first time that people working in the disability sector came from around the country to receive training in practical skills for working with children with autism.

A training team made up of four professionals from Australia and Bangladesh trained 27 doctors to effectively diagnose autism, and equipped 21 professionals from both the government and non-government sector to work effectively with children with autism and their families. IRODA is very pleased with the opportunities that this has opened up for the progression of its work. In the past children with autism have frequently been mis-diagnosed and without access to therapy or support. As a result of the training there are now a group of doctors from around the country who have the skills and resources to appropriately diagnose autism, and the Ministry of Health is committed to improving systems and processes that will allow them to do so more efficiently.

Prior to IRODA’s work in Tajikistan children with autism were generally admitted to hospital for a 7-day period and given medication (usually inappropriately) as a means of the doctors determining their diagnosis. One doctor who participated in training week initially challenged the trainers as to how it was possible to diagnose a child without hospitalizing and medicating them. This same doctor later in the week acknowledged that it not necessary or helpful to hospitalize a child for diagnosis, and suggested that the doctors consider taking off their white coats when they were interacting with the children through the play based diagnostic assessment.

Along with the wonderful benefits of these 48 professionals gaining new skills and knowledge IRODA was really pleased to see changes in attitudes of the training participants. We look forward the impact that this will have on the lives of children with autism and their families in Tajikistan. Thank you for partnering with us in the past, and we hope you will continue to work with us during 2015 as we support the growing number of children with autism that we have contact with.

New opportunities at a new location
New opportunities at a new location

Since beginning it’s work IRODA has endeavored to create opportunities for children with autism to participate alongside their peers. Last month IRODA was very pleased to be able to co-locate it’s services within a mainstream school in Dushanbe. Previously IRODA had been renting facilities privately but is very grateful for the move to the school and the new opportunities that this is providing.

With the support of AAR Japan, IRODA has set up an Early Intervention Room, Resource Class and Special Small Class within School No. 72 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Around 40 children with autism visit the school each week and participate in the early intervention program, special small class or inclusive education program.

Lots of exciting new opportunities have been created with the move to the school.   Children with autism are now supported to join some of the mainstream lessons while at other times of the day access a specialized program run by IRODA staff. A relationship has been formed with the art and music teachers and children in IRODA’s special small class have lessons with teachers from the school.

Co-locating with a mainstream school has been a big step towards seeing children with autism accessing the education system in Tajikistan. With your support we hope to create many more new opportunities for children with autism to participate alongside their peers.

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Organization Information

IRODA 'Parents of Children with Autism Initiative'

Location: Dushanbe, Tajikistan - Tajikistan
Project Leader:
Karen Purdie
Dushanbe, Tajikistan