India's 1st parent mediated programme for autism could pave the way for low cost & effective interventions

Its a programme called COMPASS and it could change the face of autism intervention programmes in India.

COMPASS, which stands for Communication centered Parent mediated intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders in South Asia, is a parent mediated programme for autism. It has been launched by Sangath, which is mental health NGO.

Present at the launch were Dr Ajay Khera, Deputy Commissioner from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and global mental health expert, Dr Vikram Patel.

COMPASS is a collaboration between many institutions including University of Manchester, Harvard Medical School, Sangath, Maulana Azad Medical College, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, National Health Systems Resource Centre and Kings College London.

COMPASS will train government community health workers to visit families in their own homes, to deliver the program under the supervision of Sangath's health staff.

Autism is a developmental disorder, which causes problems in social communication. India has over two million children with autism under the age of 10 years. Most services in India are currently based in urban centres and delivered by specialists. This means most families have no access to help for their children.

Dr Gauri Divan heads the project in India. She hopes it will help fill the gap of autism care in India. She said that government health workers have sensitive counselling skills and can be trained to become effective delivery agents.

Experts also hope that this will set the path for the establishment of relatively low cost and effective interventions to improve the lives of the many children with autism in India.

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