Supporting Kids With Autism

Supporting Kids With AutismSupporting Kids With Autism

In the first National Autism Conference held at Tehran’s Milad Tower last week, speakers discussed ways to provide support for autistic children and their families.

Lack of funds to support families with autistic children was another issue raised at the conference, with Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Ali Rabiei pointing out that the ministry’s dole to the families “might not even cover 25% of their expenses.”

Families who attended the conference put forward their demands for standard schools for autistic children, and devising, translating and localizing contents of educational courses both for autistic children and experts. Facilitating their children’s commute, providing accommodation for families who come to Tehran from other places for treatment of their children, and educating school and nursery teachers about autism were among their other requests.  

Currently, 56 private education-based autism centers are providing care and rehabilitation services for nearly 2,000 autistic children across the country.   

A scheme to provide homecare for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been announced in an effort to help reduce the expenses for their families, Rabiei said, emphasizing that universities, public places and work places must take autistic people on board.

He said the Iran Technical & Vocational Training Organization would offer specific educational programs appropriate to each individual’s impairment, which “will hopefully begin before the end of the current Persian month (May 20),” ISNA reported.

Autism is a disorder of the nervous system that can lead to disability if there is no early intervention. Early identification, treatment and empowerment, however, can help the affected person lead a normal life.

Stressing the importance of integrating children with ASD in society, Rabiei said “We should be able to help them enter the community through the regular school environment.”

He regretted the lack of cooperation and respect to the rights of autistic children in the society at large, and called for an appropriate system to ensure the children’s successful transition to adolescence and adulthood. The Labor Ministry would make all efforts to ensure higher education for autistic children.

  Screening Extended

Screening for autism will be extended to all the provinces this calendar year that began in March. In 2012, screening was carried out in Khorasan Razavi, Kerman, Tehran, Khuzestan and Hamedan provinces and in 2014, from among the 31 provinces, 24 were covered, said Anushirvan Mohseni Bandpey, head of the State Welfare Organization (SWO).

In collaboration with the education and health ministries, the SWO can help alleviate the disorder in children and increase their social and communicative skills, Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying.     

He hoped that support for autism will be included in the upcoming five-year economic development plan.

“Although autism is a new area of scientific knowledge in Iran, many countries have established early intervention plans to prevent and treat the condition, and it is not late for us.”

The SWO began studying the disorder in 2000 focusing on four main strategies: sensitization, early diagnosis, scientific and technical intervention and empowerment.

“If diagnosed early, treatment can be provided in time to prevent the progress of the disorder,” the official said.

A representative of the Information and Communication Technologies Organization (ICTO) also referred to plans to provide help to children with ASD. Ebrahimi said the ICTO is bound to set up a network for identifying and locating autistic children who are abandoned or go missing, IRNA reported.

“In collaboration with the Autism Children Charity Foundation, specific codes will be printed on these children’s clothes and the police will be allowed easy access to information on the foundation’s website to make sure missing children are found quickly,” he said.

Qasem Bahramizadeh, a member of Tehran City Council demanded insurance coverage for autistic children given the exorbitant costs in both psychological services and long-term treatment.