Autism care and treatment: Services, challenges and promising practices in Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Autistic syndrome disorder is being revealed as one of the major problems in Ethiopia in recent years. Nia Foundation Joy Center and Nehemiah autism center are the major actors in the provision of support for children with Autistic syndrome disorder and their families. This study was conducted to assess autism care and treatment service provision practice of existing service providers in light of widely recommended practices and evidence based programming in Ethiopia. The study adopted a cross sectional descriptive study involving 42 people selected purposively from teachers, professionals, parents and the centers management body. The research was qualitative in nature. The findings of the study revealed that the service packages of the organizations are giving training on the area of autism and treating Autistic children. The centers also provide counseling and training services to parents and family members including skill trainings. However, the services are primarily limited to awareness creation and consultation on major issue based on the initiation from the parents/caregiver. The services are guided by the individual knowledge and experience of the program managers rather than via a standardized manuals, guidelines and curriculum. The physical environment of the centers is good but very limited in terms of technology application and space adequacy. Demonstration, positive reinforcement and use of tangible things in teaching the children were found to be effective. The programs of both centers fail to be inclusive in the sense of facilitating interaction with nondisabled children. Lack of a supportive environment, low level of public awareness about the issue, absence of well proven effective remedies to autism, shortage of knowledgeable and skilled human resource were indicated to be major challenges. Increasing public awareness and advocacy for expansion of service and academic institutions training program, enhancing the involvement of spiritual leaders, leveraging with other actors via partnership and collaboration were suggested for improved impact. Besides, strengthening the review, monitoring and evaluation of the interventions are recommended to come up with evidence based programming.



Autism care and treatment