Ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, WHO is releasing an online version of its training curriculum for caregivers of children with developmental delays or disabilities, including autism. The program, which has already been tested face-to-face in more than 30 countries, including Brazil, India, Italy and Kenya, teaches parents and other caregivers life skills that help improve well-being. being and development of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
“In so many parts of the world, especially – but not only – in low-income settings, caregivers of children with autism often do not have access to the information and services they need,” said said Dr Chiara Servili, expert in child and adolescent mental health and brain health at the World Health Organization. “During the pilot phase, the Caregiver Skills Training program equipped families from a wide range of community backgrounds with the knowledge and skills to better understand and interact with their children with developmental delays or disabilities. The launch of the electronic version means that many more thousands of families will now be able to benefit from it.”
The online training includes pre-recorded information sessions on topics such as using daily routines as learning opportunities for children, interacting with children through play, and problem solving. Sessions to help caregivers improve their own well-being are another important feature of the course. Quick tip videos, quizzes and reminders are included to support sustained learning. The training has been designed so that caregivers can learn at their own pace, fitting the course into their schedule in a way that suits them.
The program, which was developed with the collaboration of the non-governmental organization Autism Speaks, was specifically designed to be implemented by lay providers, which is particularly useful in low-resource communities.
The launch of the digital program will be followed, later in April, by the launch of manuals that support the in-person sessions of the training program. The manuals, aimed at training facilitators, incorporate lessons learned from pilot trainings that have been conducted over the past five years and will be used to deliver the training through demonstrations, coaching and group discussions. The format will allow program participants to get information directly from trained community members and other families to further strengthen their local support network.