New tools to better diagnose autism


Minister Larue addressing guests and delegates yesterday at the launch of the training

Paediatricians, psychologists, occupational therapists and speech therapists among others are attending a two-week training on the use of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS 2).
The training, being held at the English River health centre, is being conducted by Kelly Yost, an autism expert from the University of Rochester, USA.

The training was officially launched during a ceremony yesterday morning and was attended by First Lady Natalie Michel, the chairperson of the Seychelles Children’s Foundation and a strong advocate for autism awareness at both national and international level.

Also present were Erna Athanasius, ambassador for women and children and recently named advisor on the Autism Awareness project committee, high officials from the ministries of Health and Education, partners among other guests.

The training forms part of the Autism Advocacy Project two-year plan sponsored by JOUEL, an affiliate of Diamond SA and Lawless Ltd based in Victoria. 

The ADOS 2 tool kit, which arrived in the country recently, comprises booklets, manuals and other necessary material and equipment which allow for more accurate assessment and diagnostic of autism spectrum disorders across age, developmental level and language skills.

In her remarks to officially launch the training, the Minister for Health Mitcy Larue expressed her deep gratitude and thanks to Mrs Michel for her personal support and the support of the Children’s Foundation for putting autism in Seychelles in the spotlight.

She said the training is an important development as it represents “the fruit of a growing partnership between the Seychelles Children’s Foundation, the private sector represented by JOUEL, professionals working with children in the ministries of Health and Education and the University of Rochester, one of the partners in the Seychelles Child Development Study”.

“I believe that this training is one of the key elements in the development of comprehensive services for those affected by autism. We have given much effort in creating awareness, to bringing parents and professionals together, as well as establishing an early childhood intervention centre and developing appropriate research capacity,” Minister Larue pointed out.

Mrs Larue further stressed that all that is being done is in recognition that autism disorders are a reality in Seychelles and that working together is the best approach to meeting the needs of the children and parents who are affected.

“Indeed joining forces  as advocates, health and education specialists, research scientists and parents, is the best way to ensure the development of sustainable programmes of awareness, education diagnosis and intervention,” Minister Larue said.

Sally Gopal, a member of the autism parents support group launched recently, called on parents who identify strange behaviour in their children to come forward and seek help and advice. She said parents should no longer feel helpless and alone.

For his part Dr Yost commended the remarkable collaboration that exists here to boost effort to shed more light on the condition which he pointed out is not easy to diagnose.

He noted that the training is only the beginning of more fruitful collaborations to come in seeking solutions to fit the needs of the children and parents here.

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