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Positive attitude towards autistic children advocated

Staff Reporter
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BROADENING HORIZONS: Rani Chakravarthi, Director, Rakshana, Special Children Guidance Centre, Madurai, interacting with the parents of special children in Tiruchi. –Photo:R. Ashok
BROADENING HORIZONS: Rani Chakravarthi, Director, Rakshana, Special Children Guidance Centre, Madurai, interacting with the parents of special children in Tiruchi. –Photo:R. Ashok

Adolescence is a challenging period of changes, more so for special children, who struggle to find expression. The day-long workshop organised for parents of special children here provided edifying insights into handling behavioural changes observed in the mentally challenged at the onset of adolescence, here on Thursday.

Around 150 parents of special children from various institutions participated in the workshop organised by Holy Cross Blossoms, NEST Special School, and Education Commission of Holy Cross Congregation at St. Joseph's Anglo-Indian Girls Higher Secondary School.

According to Sr.Josephine Mary, Principal, Holy Cross Blossoms, the workshop attempted to discuss issues related to upbringing of special children and create awareness among parents in dealing with behavioural changes effected by adolescence.

In interactive sessions with parents, Rani Chakravarthi, Director, Rakshana Child Care Centre, Madurai and Crescenda, Lecturer, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Holy Cross College, answered queries posed by parents.

Ms.Rani advocated a positive attitude towards autistic children, appealing to parents to value their sharp mental faculties above deficiencies in speech, aversion to social interaction, and hyperactivity. Behavioural changes are in control when the child is engaged in his favourite activity but are prone to increase when he is forced into something. She urged parents to think beyond academic performance and channelise hyperactivity of children in sports, music or art. To address the problem of social interaction, exposing children systematically to small groups was recommended. She advised medication only for excessively aggressive behaviour.

Responding to questions on odd sexual behaviour, academic enhancement, and simple day-to-day activities, Ms.Crescenda underlined the importance of life skills and the need to wean children away from total dependence on parents.

She advised against performing hysterectomy as it deprived the girl child of reproductive rights.

Earlier, R.Shyamala, District Differently Abled Welfare Officer, inaugurated the workshop. K.Ramakrishnan, psychiatrist, Athma Psychiatric centre, elaborated on the medical approach to handling special children.

An introductory session on sex education was presented by Sr.Sahayam, Holy Cross College. Sr. Michael, Director, Nest Special School, was present.

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