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Not your misconceptions, what they need is your love, care and patience

Monday, April 16, 2018
By Steffy Thevar. Photograph by Azad Shrivastav

(L-R) Tasneem Jawadwala (Senion Autism Therapist-Ummeed), Dr. Riddhi Mehta (Developmental Pediatrician-Ummeed), Dr. Priyanka Parikh (Developmental Pediatrician-Saifee Hospital), Dr. Iqbal Bagasrawala (Saifee Hospital), Dr. Zoeb Rangwala (Saifee Hospital), Reepa Shroff (Chief Occupational Therapist-Saifee Hospital), Charmi Dedfia (Occupational Therapist-Saifee Hospital), Manasa Shetty (Occupational Therapist-Saifee Hospital) the Registration is Free but Mandatory at Saifee Hospital in Charni Road, yesterday

Saifee hospitals seminar on teaching autistic kids addressed basic issues and how they can lead normal lives

Autism is not a disease but a disorder. An autistic child can be included in the category of children leading normal and routine lives, however they're special and need special care. This is what the seminar on Autism tried to convey to the parents and doctors who deal with these special kids on a daily basis.

The event that was organised on April 14 was a Continuing Medical Education (CME) on Austism. Autism is associated with Neuro Developmental Disorder of Childhood. There are several misconceptions about autism which not only causes hindrance in attending to the issue but at times results in hampering the main development of an autistic child even in the advanced and modern society and in urban areas.

It has been estimated that rather than a disease, autism is a disorder which can be rectified and the autistic child can be brought and interwoven in the main society to perform all aspects of a normal human being.

What is required is a pragmatic and a scientific approach, proper orientation and a multifaceted support from professionals from different walks of life to acquire both understanding and exchange of ideas with different approaches, as well as to deliberate on the newer avenues in tackling autism.

The speakers who interacted with the parents and psychologists, emphasised that an autistic child needs to be taught in a way that they can learn by themselves and should not be made to feel that they are abnormal and have to be trained and taught things. One of the speakers said, "we often get complaints from parents that their kids don't play with the innumerable number of toys bought for them. Here it is important to know that autistic kids need least distraction. Also, the toys that you brought are what you think is perfect for them and not what they actually wanted."

Tasneem Jawadwala, a senior autism therapist with Ummeed, a Child Development Centre, who spoke on good teaching strategies in Autism said, "These kids pay attention to detail and have a great memory. Once a kid came to meet his therapist and noticed that she didn't wear a bindi which she otherwise wore regularly. So he didn't interact with the therapist as he did usually. Our kids are used to the routine. They like doing routine stuff. For example, they love going to school every single day. In that case they'll hate a Sunday or even the PT period for that matter. They like doing routine stuff and they hate too many things around them." She further added that even while doing routine stuff, you must however try to include something new every time. "Minute changes and the regular putting in activity helps them eventually get used to change" she added.

The therapists also added that if the signs are diagnosed well in time, the earlier the kids can start their treatment. Fatima Jagmag, Audiologist & speech and language pathologist at Saifee hospital, who spoke on speech and language therapy for improvement of communication skills said that if a child tries to speak or respond in a high pitched sound, then as a parent, one must respond in a regular tone so that the child eventually understands that this is the normal tone. "When the child says home, you must respond with 'big home' 'yellow home', this way the child learns new words. These changes happen eventually, it may take a month or two, but that's fine, no one said that parenting was easy."

Manasa Shetty, an occupational therapist, Saifee hospital who spoke on Play and Autism said, "The child as young as one year old starts to show off signs of autism. A regular child while playing with a toy would interact and try to involve any other person in the game."

The other speakers included Dr. Zoeb Rangwala spoke on the overview of Autism – (pick up the early sign), Dr. Priyanka Parikh; developmental pediatrician, Saifee hospital, Dr. Riddhi Mehta; developmental pediatrician- Ummeed, spoke on intervention and complimentary and alternative medicine; Autism, Reepa Shroff; chief occupational therapist, Saifee hospital, spoke on Reflex integration in Autism, and Charmi Dedhia; occupational therapist, Saifee hospital, who spoke on sensory integration in Autism.

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