Child with autism plays at a friendly sports programme held last year. (Photo: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - Vocational training and occupational counselling for people with autism are needed to help them live independently and better integrate into society, experts said.

At an ASEAN policy workshop held on April 1 in HCM City, Dr Nguyen Xuan Thang, director of the Centre for Rehabilitation and Support Children With Disabilities in the city, said that this kind of counselling is lacking in Vietnam.

Only a few establishments, most of them set up by parents of children with autism, are providing vocational training and occupational counselling, Thang said.

Students at Tuoi Ngoc Specialised School in the city’s Binh Thanh district, for instance, are taught how to make handicraft products, such as key rings, bracelets and postcards. They also learn to weave handbags, along with cooking and making cakes.

According to Pham Thi Kim Tam, founder of the Tuoi Ngoc Specialised School, people with autism can work in restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and supermarkets. Computer game testing could also be suitable for people with autism, Tam said.

Pham Thi Yen, deputy director of the Albert Einstein Centre in Hanoi, says people with autism can also work in office jobs, doing simple work that does not require a high level of skills because their capacity for concentration is limited.

They also find it difficult to sit for a long time. Moreover, their eye-hand co-ordination is not good, leading to slowness and inexactitude in working and they need supervisors to assist them, she said, adding that it is difficult for them to get jobs.

The number of enterprises recruiting people with autism is very low, Yen said.

A mother of a 14-year-old boy from Hai Phong city told Vietnam News that like every other mother, she wants her son to get a job when he grows up. However, it is difficult. “Children with autism need more time for learning than other children,” she said.

They need people to have a deep understanding about their capacity to work, but community awareness about them remains low, she added.

Thang of the Centre for Rehabilitation and Support Children With Disabilities said he plans to provide occupational counselling and vocational training for children with autism at the centre in the upcoming time.

The centre will co-operate with other relevant organisations and schools as well as enterprises to carry this out, he added.

Dr Huynh Tan Mam said “Before providing occupational counselling and vocational training, children with autism should be taught necessary living skills which are useful for them at work.”

Doan Huu Minh, head of the Social Work Division at Agency of Social Protection, said that the country has more than 200,000 people with autism.

The Government has also amended policies, including building models for establishments to raise and provide assistance to children with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities.

In the future, these policies will also be perfected to provide better rehabilitation.

The General Directorate of Vocational Training is also learning the demands of autistic people and will set up more programmes suitable for them.

The workshop was held by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs in co-operation with the Vietnam Autism Network. It was a part of the 2nd Vietnam Autism Awareness Day held on April 1 and 2.

On April 2, more than 600 children with autism and their parents from eight provinces and cities attended friendly sports programmes in which they competed with each other in swimming, running and others sports.-VNA