ORIGINAL PAPER
Early identification and intervention services for children with autism in Vietnam
 
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Submission date: 2015-05-05
Final revision date: 2015-07-16
Acceptance date: 2015-07-16
Online publication date: 2015-07-31
Publication date: 2015-07-31
 
Health Psychology Report 2015;3(3):191–200
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Background
In high income countries in Europe and North America, early identification and intervention for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been linked to improved long-term outcomes. However, in most low and middle income countries (LMIC) little is known about the use or availability of such services, which limits the ability of policy and development planning. The purpose of the present study was to assess the use of ASD services in a number of cities in Vietnam, an Asian LMIC, in order to identify areas within the field that should be specifically targeted to improve ASD services in Vietnam.

Participants and procedure
Surveys were conducted in six different cities across Vietnam with 90 parents/caregivers of children with ASD, 115 professionals working with children with ASD, and 10 directors of agencies providing ASD services. The parents/caregivers’ survey assessed demographics and information regarding their child’s symptoms and services the child received. The professionals’ survey assessed their demographic and professional background, the ASD services they provide, and their perspective on the quality of ASD services at their agency. The directors’ survey included these same questions as well as additional questions regarding the operation of the agency.

Results
Early identification and intervention ASD services are available in Vietnam, at least in major cities. However, there is a lack of well-trained professionals, the tools used for evaluation and diagnosis are limited, outdated and unstandardized, and the quality of services is questionable. Most importantly, a scientific evidence base for services is absent, and the country lacks an official governmental policy for supporting children with ASD.

Conclusions
Research directly assessing the quality of ASD services in Vietnam is needed. Most importantly, efforts at facilitating governmental policy and support advocacy are needed to increase the likelihood that families and children with ASD will receive appropriate and effective services.
 
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