Bringing hope, dispelling myths about autism

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Five-day awareness programme for parents of autistic children concludes .

To have children with autism is to live in a world of many doubts, misconceptions and, often, exploitation by quacks and fakes. Right guidance at the right time is key to grooming such children who are accompanied, in many cases, with wonderful capabilities, into capable individuals. Sadly, parents have a tough time getting that guidance.

But a refreshing change is visible in different parts of the State, with diverse groups coming forward to organise awareness programmes for parents of autistic children. “Most parents do not have any idea about the medical aspects of autism. Sadly, established institutions are exploiting their helplessness,” said C.P. Aboobacker, who led a five-day awareness programme for parents of autistic children that concluded here on Saturday.

“Many are exploited by fake physicians who offer various bogus therapies and remedies. There are many instances where doctors also diagnose the disease as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) and prescribe Risnia 1 mg, which is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, fits, etc.,” he said after interacting with more than 20 parents at the awareness programme held at the Sathram School in the city.

The programme was organised by Autism Club, Thiruvananthapuram, in association with South URC Autism Centre, under the Disha awareness campaign. While many parents shared the confusions that they faced at every step, some showed the self-confidence to do whatever is within their power to take their children to a promising future.

There are ‘seven stages of mourning’ that parents of such children go through before eventually accepting the neuro-deficiency of their children. “Most parents reach the final stage of ‘acceptance’ very late. We try to help them improve their children’s skills and transform their future,” said Dr. Aboobacker.

‘Insensitive treatment’

The parents had many complaints about schools that claim to specialise in grooming autistic children. They often treated autistic children like they would treat mentally or physically challenged children, and many of them even used medicines to sedate autistic students. “We discovered our son’s autism at a tender age and consulted many hospitals. We also decided not to give him any medicine but the school where we put him began to give him Risnia in high dosage. When we came to know about this, we took him out and put him in a different school,” said Susan S.“We were clueless about bringing up our son. Fortunately, we attended a few classes like this and they clarified our doubts,” said Rakesh T.S. Even as the awareness programme progressed, the children were mostly out in the small playground of the school.

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