by Anastasia Para.

Currently, in Moldova, there are no official educational programs for parents of children diagnosed with ASD / developmental disorders. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Social Protection recognizes the lack of services and information facilities for parents of children with ASD/developmental disorders. In connection with the alarming statistics provided by the World Health Organization, which states that 1 in 160 children suffer from autism worldwide, the topic of autism has attracted increasing attention of the Moldovan government. Consequently, the ASD topic for the first time was included in the National Mental Health Program in 2016.

The overall objective of the project was to promote the development of suitable community services for children with ASD/ developmental disorders and their families.

The specific objectives of the project were:

– to identify opportunities for implementing a parental education program at the national level, based on the model presented during the project.

– to increase the level of awareness and informing on the specific cooperation between the family and professionals among families and institutions involved in the inclusion process of children with developmental disorders.

The specific objectives of the project were:

– to identify opportunities for implementing a parental education program at the national level, based on the model presented during the project.

The objective was achieved during the round table event organized on October 18, with the representatives of the Ministry of Health, Labour Social Protection, service providers (NGOs), parents/caregivers. The meeting was facilitated by the US participant (Pamela Dixon) and the professional fellow (Anastasia Para). The meeting consisted of 3 sections: Presentation (Pam Dixon)- the general presentation of the WHO Caregiver Skills Training Program (CST), the cost-efficient aspect and the concrete recommendations for the program implementation in MD.

The panel session (Anastasia Para moderator) – each group (authorities, providers, parents, etc.) had present their views on thetopic of ASD and CST and the needs of families of children with autism and the Q&A session. The Ministry of Education has proposed the follow-up activity in order the cooperate within the exiting programs developed by UNICEF, and to start the implementation of the parental education program in 3 districts in Moldova.

– to increasing the level of awareness and informing on the specific cooperation between the family and professionals among families and institutions involved in the inclusion process of children with developmental disorders.

2 informative sessions in areas that are less covered with support services for 46 families were organized. The events were lead by Pamela Dixon, in total 60 participants received copies of toolkits developed by Autism Speaks in the Romanian language, they learned about the basic technics how to help and advocate the rights of their children and about the opportunity to develop the CST locally.

The project was focused on the needs of parents of children diagnosed with ASD/developmental disorders, namely: limited access to parental education; lack of information and psychological support for families with children with autism; low level of

information and awareness on ASD topic among society. In total 3 main events were organized the Round table meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection (MHLSP), LPAs, civil society organizations (CSOs) and parents and 2 informational sessions organized in remote areas (outside the capital). Also, one informal meeting with 15 teachers from Chisinau was organized in cooperation with the US Embassy and America House.

The project aimed to create the precondition for the introduction at the national level of an innovative training program developed by the World Health Organization in cooperation with Autism Speaks. Therefore the project has a positive impact on a large part of the population, namely the parents/caregivers of children with developmental disorders across Moldova, and in particular, the 3 districts in Moldova were the program will be piloted. In addition, the project raised the awareness of multiple stakeholders about the needs of children with ASD and new approaches used in countries with similar economic situations which will contribute subsequently to the development of new initiatives at the local level.