On Global Day of Parents 2018, the ESIPP project (Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting) releases recommendations for policy-makers, together with a short video, to improve quality of life of people on the autism spectrum and their families through parent education.
Research shows that providing accurate information about autism to parents and teaching them to adapt their parenting using good autism practice, helps to improve outcomes for autistic people and their families. However, such support is extremely limited or non-existent in some European countries. To help fill the gap, the ESIPP project was established in 2015. Its purpose is to develop parent education in autism tailored to the needs of families and autistic people in the FYR of Macedonia, Cyprus, and Croatia.
Dr. David Preece, project coordinator from the University of Northampton: “The ESIPP project was developed to make parent education about autism available to families who otherwise could not access such knowledge. This project has shown the benefits of providing accurate information and effective strategies to parents in these countries. They feel more confident about supporting their children, and more able to respond to their needs. And family life has become happier too.”
ESIPP recommendations for policy-makers
Supporting families is of paramount importance and is also an obligation, according to the Preamble and Article 23 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities – ratified by the European Union and its member states:
ESIPP strongly recommends European countries to ensure the development of effective parent training to foster a “positive approach to autism” and respond to the need for support of millions of families across Europe. In line with the project’s findings, this will contribute to the full implementation of the UNCRPD.
Parent training is an effective way to empower families and people on the autism spectrum as well as to improve their quality of life, outcomes, and inclusion in society. ESIPP findings highlight the fact that:
- Parents training noticeably improve the quality of life of autistic people and their families and should, therefore, be supported and further developed:
– Parent training should offer practical solutions and strategies to help families and autistic people cope with the evolving challenges they face across the lifespan.
– Parent trainings and curricula should be developed and delivered locally to meet the needs expressed by families (in the widest sense), including other carers, and autistic people in specific cultural and social contexts.
– They should adequately reflect the diversity of people on the autism spectrum (e.g.: with and without learning disabilities) and of their support needs.
– Autistic people themselves should be involved in designing and delivering the training as their personal experiences can inform about the support needs of autistic children adhering to the principle “nothing about us, without us”.
– Sustainability should be ensured through adequate resourcing and capacity building of local trainers, again taking fully into account the specific needs and context of the country/region.
- Autistic people and their families face many structural obstacles – having a significant impact on access to rights as well as their quality of life – that should also be addressed:
– Parent trainings must be accompanied by the development of multi-sectoral support services in the community, both for autistic people and their families (e.g.: diagnostic, early evidence-based intervention, education taking into account their support needs, life-long support, etc.).
– Autistic people and their families should receive support to cope with stress.
– It is strongly recommended to further develop training of a wide range of professionals in Europe across relevant sectors, including for teachers and educators.
– A united voice can foster positive change. It is important that education programmes support parents’ capacity to federate themselves and to become advocates for their children in the community.
– It is also necessary to provide adequate support to children and young people to develop the capacity to advocate for themselves, including through supported decision-making.