icddr,b and faith Bangladesh provides empowering workshop to strengthen skills and knowledge of parents and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Dhaka, February 08, 2018 – Today, icddr,b’s Technical Training Unit in partnership with the Foundation for Advancement of Innovations in Technology and Health, Bangladesh (faith Bangladesh)  organised a workshop for parents and caregivers of children with ASD. “Autism Spectrum Disorders: Improving Children’s Ability to Talk and Mix with Peers” is a continuation of therapeutic practice programmes, held at icddr,b, to empower parents and caregivers raising children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

While ASD in general is recognised in Bangladesh, the number of cases are increasing (Institute for Paediatric Neurodisorder & Autism). The Ministry of Social Welfare of Bangladesh estimates that there are more than 1.4 million people with ASD, that’s one in every 500 children. Thus the need for information and advice is immense.  This workshop is designed to strengthen each child’s communication skills allowing them to reach their full potential.

 Dr Aftab Uddin, Head of the Technical Training Unit at icddr,b welcomed the audience saying, “Tackling Autism Spectrum Disorder requires many actors, from parents through providers to policymakers, however, the brunt is borne by the parents of these special children as they spend 24/7 days with them. Therefore, empowering parents/caregivers is essential, as is educating everyone in our society."

Special guest on the occasion Major General (Rtd.) Md. Shafiq-ul-Islam, Executive Director, Center for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) stressed on the importance of therapeutic interventions and shared CRP’s experience in addressing Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  

Mr Syed Monjurul Islam, Deputy Executive Director, icddr,b said, “icddr,b has always led health innovation in Bangladesh, and we are pleased to be part of the team providing highly impactful guidance to families with a child who has a ASD.’

H.E. Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat in a written message commended the programme and highlighted two important factors that are key for creating a positive environment for children with ASD. She said, “First, it is so important to fight the stigma associated with all Neurodevelopmental Disorders, or NDDs. Such stigma prevents people from seeking help to prevent or mitigate the effects of autism and other NDDs. Sadly, stigma also robs families and communities of the ability to see and enjoy the talents and love of that child. Second, schools play a very important role in helping those with NDDs learn critical life skills, and also help these children learn and demonstrate respect, kindness, friendship and support.” She added that  the US government  has collaborated with the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education of Bangladesh to develop a new early grade reading program worth over 400 crore taka ($ 48.7 million) which will focus on reaching children with disabilities. 

Ms Nilufer Ahmed Karim, Executive Director, faith Bangladesh urged the GoB to allocate more resources, she also said, "Meeting the needs of special children is a multidisciplinary and multipurpose task.  In this regard, stakeholders from public, private, NGOs and INGOs, and donors need to come forward for building a trustworthy partnership and work together to address the growing burden of ASD in Bangladesh".

Three workshops have taken place over the last year from ‘Managing children with Behavioural Problems at Home Applying Sensory Integration’, ‘Training on sensory processing and sensory integration: understanding and using the perspective’, and ‘Sensory Integration Intervention (SII) for Children with Developmental Disabilities’. Participants, mainly parents and caregivers have significantly benefited from these workshops.

Ms. Malvika Samni, Founder Director of SOCH India has facilitated the workshop attended by 100 parents and caregivers of children with ASD.

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