World Autism Awareness Day today, April to be World Autism month
Everyone has one or other intellectual shortcoming- everyone cannot fly jets or perform acrobatics or solve algorithms but they are not tagged as ‘different’ by society. But, a person with delayed responses, unable to write or read properly or having repetitive behaviour, carries a stigma with him of ‘being abnormal’. Autism is not a handicap, just a mental condition which demands special care. To bring the autistic patients in mainstream, United Nations declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day. This month is also observed as the World Autism month.
Most often, the society and sometimes parents themselves fear to get their child labeled as ‘different’ or ‘strange’ and so avoid sending them to school for children with special needs. To reduce this stigma which still persists across the country, efforts are being made by government at national and state level. There is no centre for autistic patients in Haridwar but in Roorkee, a centre has been made to deal with multiple disorders, autism being one of them.
Speaking to The Pioneer, the chief medical officer of the district hospital, Dr Prem Lal said, “Our district’s early intervention centre at Roorkee deals with patients with over 30 disorders including autism, Thelesemia and others. The blood tranfusions for many patients are being done and we have recently started to record their whole history to know genetic links. Their special requirements are checked on Rickett scale by psychological consultants. We prepare them for future life identifying their needs.”
Gitesh Madhok, aged 14 years, is the son of Anjali Madhok, a secondary school principal is an autistic child. Anjali tells, “We had recognised his problem when he was two and half year old. He could not scribble. Many friends said that may be with age he will develop the habit of learning but with time we realised he needed special educator, a speech therapist.”
Autism is characterised by developmental, communicational and social problems, often leading to discrimination among peer groups. Those afflicted by it need special parental care and medical intervention. Their brains are wired differently so special educators are needed to teach them. Unfortunately the special educators are not taking pains as is desired, feel the caretakers.
Anjali laments that had she been a homemaker, she would have got more time for her son. “I would have brought my son close to his normal peer group boys. The special educators are just minting money and so are the government centers for autistic children. The pick and drop facility is generally provided by state school, while these schools charge from us. About 80 per cent efforts are ours and rest we get from school. I feel government must give facilities like pension scheme and other benefits for people with special needs rather than spend on building institutions which are hardly of any use. Government does not have funds for giving necessary care to such people, local social organisations are still giving better facilities and schooling. Even medical insurance companies do not include mental illness in medical claim policies.”
Patients have to be exposed to different things in order to develop, said Deepesh Chandra Prasad and Pinki Prasad, founder of city based Abhiprerna foundation. The school has children with cerebral palsy, Autism, Down Sydrome and other mental disorders with patients aged between four and 24 years. Each child has a special instinct and corresponding behaviour which needs to be identified,” share Deepesh and Pinki Prasad.
An autistic patient is not going to find out himself, if he likes to play a musical instrument or dance to the tunes played on keypad but an educator must realise it. Kunal Dhawan, a final year graduate student at SMJN PG college said, “I have been playing on keypad for the past many years for Abhiprerna school and found the behaviour of autistic people mellow down as when they go hyper, music has an immediate effect on their tantrums.”
Tuesday, 02 April 2019 | PNS | Haridwar
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