After a concerned mother reached out to researchers at UNC about the impact of the war in Ukraine on children with autism, a team at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute created a toolkit of evidence-based resources to help children cope.
Kara Hume is an associate professor in the School of Education and director of the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice. Hume is also the faculty fellow at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute who came up with the idea for the resource packs, which she dubbed “timely toolkits.”
“We need to be extra thoughtful for this population that might struggle with the sensory experiences in a different way, the social experiences in a different way, the routine in a different way, that some of the blanket resources that are developed may not be as helpful as we would hope,” she said.
For the most recent toolkit, the team received a request from Danna Summers, a psychologist from Kazakhstan, about the experiences that families she knew were having regarding the war in Ukraine.
Summers, who has a five-year-old son with autism, had friends and colleagues in Ukraine when the war initially started.
She saw a post online saying that children with autism were having issues trying to cope as they were going into shelters in Ukraine and contacted Hume’s team to see if they could provide potential resources.
“We also have these evidence-based practice modules,” Ann Sam, an advanced research scientist at the Child Development Institute, said. “And so we’ve kind of been known for that dissemination of information.”
Sam said the research team has a more extensive program known as the Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules that distributes information about evidence-based practices for students with autism.
Hume said it’s difficult to know how the resources are getting to Ukraine.