In Ukraine, the greatest support for people with autism exists in preschools, primary and secondary schools. At the same time, the situation with universities is radically different – people do not know whether universities are working in this direction. Similarly, Ukrainians know little about the availability of support in their region for the vocational training of adults with autism. This allows us to conclude that the reforms have already reached children with autism, but in fact have not affected the adult categories of citizens of Ukraine with special needs.
These are the results of the Ukrainian part of the Autism and Education survey, which was conducted in 2019 in the EU by the Autism Europe initiative and aims to promote access for people with autism to quality inclusive education, including university and vocational education. Thanks to the NGO ‘Child with Future’ (Kyiv) and the support of the Autism Europe Consul in Ukraine Inna Sergienko, Ukraine also took part in it.
If in preschool institutions the most common support for children with autism is helping children during breakfast and lunch (15.6%), counseling for parents (14.8%) and support for interaction during play (13.2%), then in primary and secondary schools include classroom assistants (28.1% and 18.6% respectively), the possibility of a flexible curriculum (20% and 11.9%), assistance in organizing learning and support outside the classroom.
According to Ukrainian respondents, the highest level of education in autism is demonstrated by the preschool and primary school staff, slightly lower – secondary, and much lower – universities. Approximately in the same order, people assessed the staff’s desire to improve their professional level – 10%, 18%, 6% and 2%, respectively. In general, 38.2% of respondents said that they “completely agree” and “agree” with the statement that staff and teachers have an adequate understanding of autism and the needs of special students, and categorically and not completely agree with him was slightly more – 42.4% .
In general, the lack of a sufficient number of specialists, the low level of education of the staff majority and teachers of educational institutions, the lack of available infrastructure for professional development, according to the survey, are the most painful problems of the educational system in Ukraine.
In response to questions about the existence of an individual child development plan, the positions of respondents were divided almost equally (51% yes, 49% no) as well as in the question of parental participation in the development of the plan (47.7% and 52.3%). When asked who makes the final decision on the individual plan, 44.4% answered “parents”, 37.7% – “specialists”, 18% – “together”.
And the final question of the questionnaire – ‘In your opinion, the situation with autism in Ukraine in general is improving or deteriorating?’ – Only one in five participants answered “deteriorating”, and 77.5% said it was “improving”.
In recent years, Ukraine has taken a big step in this direction. According to experts of the NGO ‘Child with future’, in the near future in Ukraine should be as follows.
TOP-10 areas of effort for the benefit of people with special needs:
- Strengthening public awareness of autism and all other citizens with special needs.
- Training of specialists in the best international practices and their intensive professional informing about achievements and successful cases in the field of autism.
- Encouraging the involvement of parents in active participation in the process.
- Creating stable and long-term motivations for autism professionals at all levels of education and in all sectors of the economy.
- Improving the legislation “provision and promotion” of categories of people with special needs.
- Creating favorable and transparent conditions in society to finance the needs of all citizens with different developmental disabilities.
- Requiring from the state special preferences for people with special needs.
- Creating conditions for active involvement of national and transnational business to finance the needs of special people.
- Active involvement of global, international and national institutions in order to create a favorable and safe environment for people with special needs.
- Improving global coordination and cooperation in this area.
145 respondents from 67 settlements took part in the survey, incl. representatives of educational institutions and NGOs – 36%, individuals – 64%. This is a naturally narrow target audience and, although the survey is not scientifically representative, in general it adequately reflects the state of autism in the education system of Ukraine in 2019. It will be recalled that representative research on this and many other topics is impossible due to the lack of a number of statistical data in Ukraine. The above indicators are% of the total number of respondents who answered the questionnaire.
The full results of the survey can be viewed here.