Screening, Diagnosis and Parent Training for Young Children with ASD in Albania
University of Connecticut
Global Autism Public Health
Families with autism are underserved in Albania, a country of 3,000,000 in southeast Europe. In 2009-2011, partnership between Autism Speaks and the Albanian Children’s Foundation (ACF) raised public autism awareness, conducted educational symposia, translated and pilot tested an autism screener, translated a diagnostic instrument, and obtained a private foundation grant to conduct intensive therapist and parent training in evidence-based therapy. The aims to maintain and accelerate these gains, and make autism capacity in Albania self-sustaining are: 1) continue raising awareness by having Dr. Ariel Como, child psychiatrist of the ACF and director of Tirana’s academic medical center, conduct educational symposia on ASD for parents and professionals: 2) study the performance of the translated screener for autism in young children in pediatric clinics; 3) complete training on the diagnostic instrument to enable future diagnostic services and research; 4) provide supervision by credentialed experts for the Albanian therapists as they take formal coursework in evidence-based therapy, which will, within the grant period, make them independent of supervision from outside the country, and able to train other Albanian therapists; 5) disseminate and evaluate a parent-training program to teach effective strategies for parenting children with ASD; and 6) establish and evaluate a support network for parents who are using the training material. The research is directly relevant to the 2010 AS priorities of: 1) early detection, 2) development and evaluation of novel treatments, and 3) dissemination of empirically-validated screening, diagnostic and treatment approaches to community settings. It is also directly relevant to the Global Autism Public Health priorities of screening, diagnostic, and intervention services that will be fully sustainable, testable in a scaled-down version, and with a strong commitment from the local, Albanian stake-holders, in a region of the world where the autism community is underserved, and has the potential to greatly influence autism services throughout the country.