“It is important for parents to know about autism”

“It is important for parents to know about autism and be an expert on their child affairs. Educate yourselves on your child’s needs and contribute to their development,” said K. Geetha, Director of PRAVAAG, Transitional centre for Children with Autism, at a ‘Win Autism’ workshop held at the Gandhi Memorial Museum here on Saturday.

The day-long workshop was organised by Sparks Vidyalaya, a school for autistic children and Association of Parent for Persons affected by Autism (AAPPAA). It brought together the parents of autistic children and special educators working with autistic children in the city. Ms. Geetha emphasised that it was important for parents to be “able to diagnose” their children early.

“Many parents notice symptoms of autism in their children and wait to see if they will outgrow the problems, which is wrong. Early intervention is effective since it will speed up development and work towards reducing symptoms of autism,” she said.

There are 15 schools in the district that cater to the needs of special children. Andavar P. Jaidev, founder of Sparks Vidyalaya School, said: “Madurai district has more than 400 autistic children.

There is a lack of awareness about autism among officials. Special schools and centres have inadequate infrastructure.

“The AAPPAA was formed so that we could come together and represent the children and people with autism who need such facilities and we are planning to approach the Social Welfare Department for the same,” he said.

Sessions on speech therapy and communication and understanding of sensory issues in children with autism were held by resource persons from the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, Chennai.

C.K. Dhanapandian, who spoke to the parents about management of challenging and emotional problems in children with autism, said a group approach towards addressing issues related to autism proved to be effective and it was a step towards societal inclusion. “It is very important for parents to be exposed to such multi-disciplinary sessions concerning their children since most often they are unaware of how to deal with emotional and communication related issues,” Mr Dhanapandian said while speaking on the sidelines of the workshop.

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