At the invitation of the Ecuadorian government, Autism Speaks is providing technical support for the creation of its national autism action plan
By education specialist Lucia Murillo, Autism Speaks assistant director of education research
Over the years, Ecuador has made great effort to address the needs of Ecuadorians with disabilities. Among these efforts was the creation of a Technical Secretariat of Disabilities, which reports to the country’s vice president.
The secretariat staff coordinates the efforts of Ecuador’s government ministries to safeguard the rights and improve quality of life for individuals with disabilities.
Autism Speaks, through its Global Autism Public Health (GAPH) Initiative, has developed a partnership with Ecuador’s Secretariat of Disabilities. Our role is to provide the technical support needed to meet the unique needs of those affected by autism in the country.
On a recent trip to Ecuador, Autism Speaks Director of Public Health Research Michael Rosanoff and I met with the secretariat staff to support their work.
In order to gain a greater understanding of the autism community’s needs, we also met with agencies providing services and advocacy for individuals with autism and their families. This included the Asociación de Padres y Amigos para el Apoyo y la Defensa de los Derechos de las Personas con Autismo (Association of Parents and Friends for the Support and Defense of the Rights of Persons with Autisms), or APADA.
Autism Speaks emphasizes the importance of learning about the needs of a community directly from families and service providers. In this way, we feel we can best support the government as it develops strategies and policies that address the autism community’s needs.
During our trip, the staff of the secretariat told us about their plans to organize a national committee as a forum for parents and professionals to discuss the needs of its autism community. This will include improving access to high-quality diagnosis and services and emphasizing inclusion in all aspects of society.
APADA will be an important part of this committee, offering the perspective of families and providing a link to other parent organizations across Ecuador.
With Autism Speaks providing technical help, the committee will assist the Ecuadorian government in developing a detailed plan of action.
Additionally, the Ministry of Education has made clear that it is eager for our technical support. In particular, it seeks our support in making inclusion a reality in Ecuadorian schools. This will include training teachers to address the needs of children with autism within the classroom setting.
Ecuador is poised to be a leader in Latin America through their commitment to improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. We at Autism Speaks are so pleased to be able to support these efforts.
Editor’s note: Autism Speaks’ Global Autism Public Health Initiative has partnerships with more than 60 nations, with the shared goals of enhancing access to autism services and promoting international research. Learn more about GAPH here.