Caregivers’ mental health remains an important pre-requisite for providing care to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to a recent research conducted by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B).
The research report on “Research for Autism: Assessment of mental health status among caregivers of children with autism and feasibility of creating a community-based support system in Bangladesh” was revealed at a dissemination seminar at the ICDDR,B auditorium on Monday.
The ICDDR,B’s research team had conducted survey among 388 mothers who had a child with ASD at least three years of age and were enrolled in a special school located in Dhaka. The research found that one in every four mothers of a child with autism suffered from depression. The wide array of problems mothers of autistic children face range between poverty to criticism from peers and neighbours, to lack of knowledge on how to deal with a baby with special needs and depression.
Most of the mothers (84%) have reported facing difficulty in taking
care of the child at home and 42% had a paid employee. About half of the mothers (54%) did not attend any training from a school for taking care of a special child at home.
The research said that majority of the autistic kids’ parents had higher level of education (43% mothers and 52% spouse had master’s degree or higher level of education) and are from higher socio-economic class.
Besides, parents said they spent on an average Tk. 17,890 each month for the child’s living and one-third of the spending was tuition fees, the research found.
Dr Alias Named, interim head of the Chronic No Communicable Disease Unit, ICDDR,B, said the pilot project of home-based parental training of the master’s trainers has been successfully conducted through the Bangladeshi Parent Empowerment Programme (BPEP).
She also said majority of the mothers under the BPEP programme have reported improvement in their children after attending special schools.
“Facilitating access of children to home-based lifetime rehabilitative
care, in addition to the effective
institution-based programmers can offer better impact if children with ASD are given appropriate support at an early age,” she said.
She also said that developing a simple training programme for the parents, particularly mothers, may help mothers become master trainers and engage them to train other mothers who are caregivers of their children with ASD in the family.
Speaking as chief guest, Saia Husain, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorder (NDD), lauded the latest research initiative of the ICDDR,B.
“No two children with ASD are same. They are special and they deserve special care,” she said, adding that caregivers at home are the primary people to provide care to the children with ASD.