Before the year 1991, there was only one hospital that provided medical services for the mental retarded persons, it was located in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. The services of this hospital were not sufficient to meet the needs of patients throughout Thailand. It was hard for the patients in the rural area to travel for treatment at this hospital, particularly, indigenous groups and economically disadvantaged families. The majority of the patients at that time were unable to access early intervention services and had limited opportunity to develop life skills that made them encounter with difficulties in their life, both personal and social life.
In the year 1991, the ‘Center for mentally retarded persons’ was established in Chiangmai Province. This Center provided medical services for mentally retarded persons in 9 provinces in the upper northern part of Thailand. Then in the year 1993 this Center expanded their services to cover all 17 provinces in the northern part of Thailand and also extended their services to cover the children with delayed development such as Autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Cerebral Palsy, Learning Disability, etc. In the year 1994, this Center was renamed as ‘Northern Child Development Center’.
Later, in the year 2004, it was renamed again as ‘Rajanagarindra Institute of Child Development’. The Institute is under the supervision of the Department of Mental Health, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand. Its main responsibility is to be the center of excellence on child development by providing medical services for the patients and supporting knowledge in this area for other public health facilities, such as health stations, community hospitals and general hospitals of the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand.
At the beginning of the medical services in the year 1994, there was a survey on the needs of the public health personnel who worked in the health stations of the 9 provinces in the upper northern part of Thailand. It was found that the public health personnel paid very much attention to mental health prevention and they expected that their health stations could provide all public health elements for the patients that included prevention,
treatment, rehabilitation, and also finding employment for mentally retarded persons; and they also wanted to
provide training course and support knowledge and materials to the people in their area (Chavala Thiendanu, Samai Sirithongthaworn, Amporn Hayachantha, and Nuttaporn Khruaphan, 1994 as abstract mentioned below).
From this survey, the tools for screening, assessment, and promotion of children’s development were developed. Training on these tools was provided for the public health personnel in the health stations, community hospitals, and general hospitals.