The situation with autism is improving in Ukraine survey data

“Child with a Future” Foundation became a partner of the “Autism and Education” survey, which was conducted during 2019 in the EU countries by the “Autism-Europe” initiative. Its goal was to facilitate access of people with autism to quality inclusive education, including university and professional education. Thanks to the efforts of the “Child with a Future” Foundation (Kiev) and the support of the Consul “Autism-Europe” Inna Sergienko, Ukraine also took part in it.

Download survey results here

The greatest support for autistic people exists in preschool institutions, primary and secondary schools in Ukraine. The situation with universities is radically different – people do not know about the universities working in this direction at the same time. Ukrainians know little about the availability of support in their region for professional training of adults with the disorder. This allows us to conclude that the reforms have already reached autistic children, but did not affect the adult categories of Ukrainian citizens with special needs.

If at preschool institutions, common support for autistic children is helping children during breakfast and lunch (15,6%), counseling for parents (14,8%), and supporting interaction during play (13,2%), then at primary and at secondary schools, these are classroom assistants (28,1% and 1,6%, respectively), flexible curriculum options (20% and 11,9%), assistance in organizing learning and support outside the classroom.

According to the Ukrainian survey participants, the highest level of autism education is demonstrated by the staff of preschool and primary schools, lower – of secondary schools, and the lowest – of universities. In approximately the same order, people rated the staff’s desire to improve their professional level – 10%, 18%, 6%, and 2%, respectively. In general, 38,2% of the respondents stated 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. There were a little more categorically and not quite agree with this position – 42,4 %.

So, the most painful problems of the education system in Ukraine are:

  • lack of a sufficient number of specialists;
  • low level of staff and teachers education;
  • lack of an accessible infrastructure for advanced training.

In the answers to the question about the presence of an individual child development plan, the positions of the respondents were divided almost equally (51% yes, 49% no), as well as in the question of parents’ 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% named “parents”, 37,7% – “specialists”, 18% – “jointly”.

To the final question of the questionnaire: “Is the situation with autism in Ukraine generally improving or worsening?” – only every 5th participant answered “worsening”, and 77,5% said “improving”.

“We are very grateful to everyone who took part in the survey and helped us to get information,” says Consul of “Autism-Europe” in Ukraine and founder of the “Child with a Future” Foundation Inna Sergienko. “Such surveys are very important because they allow us to evaluate the results of our work and the work of other organizations, as well as determine future directions of activity”.

According to the specialists of the “Child with a Future” Foundation, in the nearest future the TOP-10 areas of work for people with special needs should be the following:

  • raising public awareness about autism and all citizens with special needs;
  • training specialists in the best international practices and their intensive professional informing about achievements, successful cases in the autism field;
  • encouraging parents to be actively involved in the process;
  • creating stable and long-term motivations for specialists dealing with autism at all levels of education and in all sectors of the economy;
  • improvement of legislation on “providing and stimulating” categories of people with special needs;
  • creating favorable and transparent conditions in society for financing the needs of all citizens with different developmental features;
  • A requirement from the state the special preferences for people with special needs;
  • creating conditions for the active involvement of national and transnational businesses 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 worldwide coordination and cooperation in this area.

The survey participants became 145 respondents from 67 localities, incl. representatives of educational institutions and civil society – 36%, individuals – 64%. This is a naturally narrow target audience and the survey is not representative from a scientific point of view, but in general, it adequately reflects the state of the problem of autism in Ukrainian education system in 2019.

Carrying out 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 the only % of the respondents’ total number who answered the questionnaire.