The HEAD Foundation is supporting Universiti Sains Malaysia, Souphanouvong University and University of Nottingham, Malaysia, to develop an online training module for teachers in Laos to facilitate social communication of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In Laos, there is little to no support for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There are a negligible number of specialised medical personnel and experts to diagnose and help those with ASD cope with life in school and beyond, according to Association for Autism in Laos.
The situation is less than ideal especially in low-resource schools. As such, Dr Low Hui Min from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Somchay Makesavanh from Souphanouvong University, Prof Dr Lee Lay Wah from USM, Assoc Prof Dr Aznan Che Ahmad from USM and Dr Wong Tze Peng from University of Nottinham, Malaysia, have come together to develop an online training module for teachers in Laos to facilitate social communication of students with ASD. Dr Low has previously completed a similar research project in Penang, Malaysia. The project aims to enhance Laotian teachers’ skills and knowledge to provide quality inclusive education to students with ASD and to improve these students’ educational outcomes.
The team first conducted a needs assessment survey to identify the state of knowledge, perception, attitude and skills of teachers in Luang Prabang towards teaching students with ASD. The survey results helped the project team to understand the current situation in Luang Prabang and tailor the content to the abilities and needs of the teachers.
The project team then developed an online training course, consisting of 10 short videos and group discussions, hosted on Facebook, an open-access social media platform that is popular in Laos. 100 teachers in selected pre and primary schools in Luang Prabang are expected to directly benefit from this project. These selected teachers will learn about ASD, how to identify students with ASD, and how to work with these students to better facilitate their social communication and improve their learning outcomes.
The Facebook group will be open to all after the project period so that other general teachers, special education teachers, parents of children with ASD and those interested in ASD can access the content to improve the quality of social communication and learning experiences of children with ASD in Laos.
 Luang Prabang is a major Laotian city and the location of this project, a national pilot.