with most of the population concentrated in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek. The population is over 90% ethnic Croat, with about 4% Serbs and smaller numbers of Bosniaks, Hungarians, Italians, Slovenes, Germans, Czechs, Romani and others. There are about 1500 people identified as having an autism spectrum disorder in Croatia, mostly under the age of 18. This indicates an identified prevalence of about 4 per 10,000.
Croatia has a limited number of supports available for families with children on the autism spectrum. There are a small number of specialist institutions, which provide support and training to families with children on the autism spectrum (e.g. Center za Autizam, Zagreb; Center Slava Raškaj; Kindergarten Bajka). There are also some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) providing early intervention programmes. Institutions and NGOs may also provide parent and sibling support groups.
In addition Croatia has a number of parent organisations supporting families with children on the autism spectrum. These have organised specific training events for parents with regard to approaches including the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), DIR (Floortime), Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and sensory integration.
Families with children with autism may also participate in generic programmes for families with children with disabilities.
Although there are a number of initiatives and activities in this area, there are a number of challenges.
The support provided is often project-based, and unsustainable; much of the content is generic, rather than autism-specific; where specific approaches are taught (such as ABA or PECS) there is no follow-up; programmes are not evaluated for their impact; and provision is limited, and inaccessible for many families.