Tailor-made therapies need of the hour for autistic children

Rani Devalla
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World Autism Awareness Day today

Helping hand:Autistic children at Lebenshilfe being engaged in various activities in Visakhapatnam.— Photo: C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM
Helping hand:Autistic children at Lebenshilfe being engaged in various activities in Visakhapatnam.— Photo: C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Experts in the city say autistic people are different from mentally-challenged people and require tailor-made therapies depending on the severity of the condition.

Most autistic children are lost in their own world and take their own sweet time to understand the subject. Some were initially aggressive but have calmed down over the years, said K. Aruna, teacher for autistic children. She said: “Whatever you teach them, autistic children may not pay attention immediately but over a period of time they repeat what you say. They need a lot of space to learn and communicate the way they want to. Some are really smart while others take months to learn things. But, yes they are very good observers.”

According to the recent studies, autism affects one out of 500 children in India compared to one of 150 children in the US. Their acceptability at regular schools has become a cause of concern.

There are various reasons why these children are not being accepted on par with regular schoolchildren, said president of Visakha Psychiatric Society and director of Vivek Special School C. Radhakanth.

He said: “regular schools find it difficult to handle these children as they have behavioural problems which continue to be unpredictable.

Impulsive behaviour, repeating themselves, hyperactivity, hypo-activity and social withdrawal are a few of their usual traits. However, those with problems like seizures, self-injuries or aggressive behaviour not only need special attention but also medical help.”

All autistic children are not mentally-challenged. With special care and proper support system they can be groomed to improve their social skills over a period of time.

The disorder is not curable but can be treated, said special educationist and social scientist and founder of Lebenshilfe T. Saraswathi Devi.

“Recently, we have discovered that raga therapy is working wonders for autistic children. Their distractive mindset can be controlled through specific ragas and we could see tremendous change in their behaviour,” she added.

Principal of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar A. Kausalya said autistic children need extra attention and care. “There are many books available on how to treat autistic children and help them improve their concentration levels,” she said.



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