Autism toolkit: an online training program for laymen in rural India
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The second-most populous country in the world, India, has many problems that need attention such as employment, providing health services in rural areas, access to education and many more (Worldometer, n.d.). Each issue that is present has multiple reasons for why they exist. The two problems addressed in this project are: a) the increase in the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Raina et al., 2017) b) a high number of regular children/teenagers who drop out of school, 1 in every 10 to be precise (Gouda & Sekher, 2014). Autism toolkit is an online training program for anyone, interested in helping children with ASD, who has completed their 8th grade. It aims to provide intervention to children in the Autism Spectrum Disorder in rural parts of India through training laypeople or non-specialized workers (NSWs). The training will be done using the principles of task-shifting as postulated by the World Health Organization. Task shifting involves equipping more hands to provide intervention (World Health Organization, 2008). There is evidence from studies, where task shifting was done in South Asia, suggesting the efficacy of such an approach in ASD-intervention (Divan et al., 2015). Capacity building programs that help solve problems within each community are advantageous (DHHS, National Cancer Institute, 2005). Research has also shown that interventions for autism delivered by a non-specialist provider produce benefits compared to no treatment at all or ‘treatment as usual’(Rahman et al., 2016). The program is designed to engage volunteering OTs across India and the world, who are comfortable to teach simple topics in Hindi, online.