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Breaking the barriers of autism

Venita Gomes | NT BUZZ

There may have been parents of autistic children who have faced one of these moments in public at one point in time: When their child is screaming and running around and the parent is on the receiving end of disapproving stares or outright hostility from the people in the vicinity. ‘Control your child’ says someone in the crowd, maybe assuming that the child lacks discipline or recognising the disorder but still blames the parent for the child’s behaviour. Yes, at some point we all may have reacted in such a way to situations like these. However, our reaction can have significant impact on the child bearing the burden of such a disorder.

Maya Kamat from Margao a parent of an autistic child says: “We fail to understand that the mindset of an autistic child is different from that of a normal child. We often tend to compare our child with others forgetting that the normal person’s ability to perceive things is different.”

The fear of what people might think, often pushes parents to often hide the diagnosis of the child, this often complicates the situations further. “It is not a setback that the child is autistic, it has to be seen as a good thing as your child is different from the rest,” adds Kamat.

Awareness about autism is a need and adequate facilities should be provided to autistic children, in order to help them complete their education. Another parent, Anand Pednekar from Moira says: “NGOs are very well helping children at a young age through various therapies and training but later on there should be special educational centres that cater to help them complete their education.”

Psychologist at the NGO, Sangath, Percy Cardozo says: “One of the important things that we suggest to parents is to include the child in regular activities be it a party or school, we prefer to let the child be free. The child might be hostile if he is kept separate and alone all the time. He should be given the freedom to mix with others, to avoid any socialisation issues.”

Paediatrician and director at Sethu Centre for Child Development and Family Guidance, Nandita de Souza says: “We must have inclusive education that can help the child be part of society from very early. Due to which various NGOs conducts several awareness programmes educating society and parents.”

She adds that autism is different from intellectual disability: “Since many children with autism do not speak, they are treated as if they have intellectual disability and methods that help them are not used. Hence training of teachers and people working in disability NGOs is vital. For example, even sexuality education can be given in very simple and effective way to people with autism, but this area is largely ignored by families and teachers.” In last 12 years Sethu, has diagnosed around 1300 children with autism in Goa.

De Souza also mentions about a young girl who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 who would continuously scream but now with the treatment she is in class 10 and doing quite well. “A young boy, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 10, is today a graphic designer in a company and is doing well too. It is just a matter of the right approach, “says De Souza.

 

(Sangath will organise a walk on April 1 to mark the World Autism Awareness Day starting from Margao Municipal Garden to Ana Fonte Garden from 4 p.m. onward, followed by a stage play and programme. Details: 9552530442.

Sethu Centre for Child Development and Family Guidance in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Panjim Riviera, Carasid and Skatemania on April 2 will organise a run and skate in support of Autism Awareness. Details: 9527344384)

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