Autism Speaks connects families and caregivers of children with autism to essential skills through Caregivers Skills Training program

Reaching underserved and under-resourced communities, The World Health Organization program, created with support from Autism Speaks, teaches caregivers day-to-day skills to best support children with developmental disabilities

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NEW YORK (March 31, 2022) – As World Autism Month commences, Autism Speaks is offering families in the U.S. and around the world access to free resources to help children with autism reach their full potential. The World Health Organization (WHO) Caregiver Skills Training (CST) for Families of Children with Developmental Delays or Disabilities, developed with the support of Autism Speaks, addresses the lack of specialized care available in some parts of the world and teaches caregivers day-to-day skills that foster the growth of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

With research highlighting the effectiveness of caregiver-mediated interventions, the WHO CST program is specifically designed to be implemented by non-specialist providers, which is particularly helpful in low-resource communities.

“Limited information and services make it difficult for many families to provide the best care for their loved ones,” said Pamela Dixon, director of clinical services and inclusion at Autism Speaks. “We’re thrilled to join forces with WHO and our partners in the U.S to offer caregivers clear and accessible guidance for everyday life. With tips on a wide range of issues such as problem-solving to self-care, these tools help the child’s growth and development, giving every child with autism the opportunity to unlock their full potential.”

On April 2, WHO is releasing an online, self-guided eCST platform, making the program accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

“WHO’s digital CST experience, eCST, delivers pre-recorded courses and digital content, including quick tip videos, quizzes and prompts, to caregivers who lack access to in-person group trainings,” said Dr. Chiara Servili, who leads WHO’s work on the mental and brain health of children and adolescents. “We are delighted that eCST is now available on WHO's learning platform, giving caregivers the opportunity to navigate the program at their own pace.”

The in-person version of the program has already been piloted in more than 30 countries worldwide, including locations in the U.S. Acceptance of the program in a wide range of communities was high, with the leveraging of evidence-based methods and a family-centric approach empowering caregivers with knowledge to better understand and engage with their autistic children.

Through demonstrations, coaching and group discussions, caregivers participating in the in-person program learn to use everyday play and home routines as opportunities to build their child’s communication, engagement, positive behavior and daily living skills, all while building their own confidence, reducing stress and improving their overall well-being. Program participants gain insight directly from trained community members and other families to further strengthen their local support network.

In delivering resources to help children with autism and their families reach their full potential, Autism Speaks continues to support the autism community, providing research, advocacy, services and supports to individuals across the autism spectrum and throughout the life span with the goal of creating a kinder, more inclusive world.

To learn more about eCST and register for the online course, visit: autismspeaks.org/cst

Learn more about Autism Speaks and World Autism Month at: autismspeaks.org. To join the conversation, find @autismspeaks on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. For personalized support and questions, contact the Autism Response Team at 1-888-AUTISM2, en Español at 1-888-772-9050 or by email at help@autismspeaks.org

About autism  

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. A combination of genetic and environmental factors influences the development of autism, and autism is often accompanied by medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children in the U.S.

About Autism Speaks  

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. To find resources, join an event or make a donation, go to www.AutismSpeaks.org. Learn more by following @AutismSpeaks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.  

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You can also reach the Autism Response Team by phone or email: 888-288-4762, en Espanol 888-772-7050, or help@autismspeaks.org.