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21 July 2022, 12:30

Kochanova: Autistic children should be integrated into society

MINSK, 21 July (BelTA) – Chair of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Natalya Kochanova is hosting a meeting to discuss efforts to create an enabling environment for children with autism spectrum disorders, their education, rehabilitation, social adaptation and physical development, BelTA has learned.

The meeting was prompted by the appeals to the Council of the Republic of parents of such children. “In Belarus, children are a priority of social policy, there is no doubt about it. The country's laws and practices in this field are worthy of respect. They cover education and treatment of children; the centers providing treatment and intervention services operate in every city and region of the country. This is how the government helps families raising such children. At the same time, parents say that they are not always happy about the way this matter is approached on the ground. Teachers are not always ready to work with such children,” Natalya Kochanova said.

The speaker emphasized that these children should be integrated into society. “They should study in an ordinary school, get an education and be integrated into society. They should live and work with us, feel comfortable and be useful to the country,” she said.

The meeting brought together a wide range of participants - ministers, heads of government agencies, public associations, medical professionals.

“We are all interested in children being healthy, developing, receiving a decent education and fulfilling themselves. Children are our future,” Natalya Kochanova noted.

In Belarus, 2,770 children with autism spectrum disorders are currently under the supervision of psychiatrists, and their number is growing. According to world scientific data, the prevalence of ASDs is 1 case per 160 newborns.

In clinical practice, children are diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 years and older. Diagnostics is carried out by regional psychoneurological clinics. The diagnostic algorithm includes mandatory examination and consultations with a psychiatrist, a pediatrician, a neurologist, a psychologist, a special-needs expert. Further, the information is sent to the local health facility that provides medical specialist supervision.

A set of diagnostic measures and further psychiatric observation is provided mainly on an outpatient basis, which is less traumatic for a child's psyche. 37 early intervention departments (units) at children's polyclinics and children's hospitals provide comprehensive assistance to children and their families. The main task of medical rehabilitation of children with ASDs is full or partial recovery of control over their behavior. Prescription of drugs for the management of symptoms associated with ASDs is effective only in 20% of cases.

Medical rehabilitation can be carried out both on an outpatient basis (at the child's place of residence) and on an inpatient basis. Patients need medical rehabilitation, as a rule, no more than one or two times a year. The main goals are to develop communication skills and improve socialization.

About 1,300 preschool teachers and instructors are employed by educational institutions across the country to provide personalized support for children with ASDs.

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