Tashkent conference urges greater support for children with autism

29 Mar 2013

Tashkent conference urges greater support for children with autism

An international conference held in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, on 28 March, looked at the issue of providing medical and social assistance to children with autism spectrum disorders. The event, backed by the You are not alone charitable foundation and the National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children (NCSAC), brought together experts from France, Israel, Russia and Uzbekistan; representatives from the WHO, UNICEF and UNDP; as well as the US, British and Israeli embassies.
Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva speaking in a international conference

In her speech, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the You are not alone foundation and the NCSAC, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, spoke of an existing outdated approach in the Uzbek health and education sectors to the problem of autism, and stressed the need to implement international experience in the systemic adaptation of children with autism spectrum disorders.

“Our experts at the NCSAC have experience of working with autistic children. Fifteen children with autism are currently being provided with comprehensive assistance at the centre. However, it is clear that the matter must be addressed at the nationwide level, with the involvement of all relevant government and public organizations, and here we have a number of issues that need to be addressed urgently.

“Today our health care and education sectors have an old-fashioned approach to the issue of autism, considering it as a type of mental retardation and other mental illnesses. As a result, we are dealing with medical and educational approaches which are starkly out of tune with reality,” Karimova-Tillyaeva said.

She went on to say that there is no coherent system and methodology in the area of training health and education specialists in the matters pertaining to autism in Uzbekistan. “There are no officially endorsed methods and recommendations, and, most importantly, there is no agreed unified legal position.”

Karimova-Tillyaeva emphasized that with the timely diagnosis, effective therapy and comprehensive medical, psychological and educational support those children will be able to realize their potential to the full and integrate into society.
Lola Tillyaeva in the conference about autistic children

She stressed the importance of using the international experience in reforming the approach to the issue of autism.

“We need to apply the approach of the countries that have a considerable experience in this area and implement it in our country. Primary care pediatricians should be involved in ensuring the early diagnosis so that they can identify the risks at early stages and refer a child with autism to specialists. We believe that autism should be included onto the list of medical conditions that can qualify for disability, which will in turn entitle children and their parents to benefits.”

Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva proposed developing a national programme to provide medical and social support to children with autism spectrum disorders, which will be based on accumulated international experience.

Karimova-Tillyaeva also highlighted the role of the media in boosting the public awareness of the matter and overcoming deep-seated stereotypes regarding people with special needs.