Parents asked to consider autism therapy for autistic children

Parents with autistic children have been encouraged to consider autism therapy which is a way that has been proven to improve the condition in children and adults.

Summary:

  • Parents of autistic children were encouraged to pursue autism therapy, proven to enhance conditions by addressing social behavior, communication, sensory integration, and emotional issues. During World Autism Awareness Day in Kampala, this therapy was emphasized over misconceptions like witchcraft

KAMPALA, (Examiner) – Parents with autistic children have been encouraged to consider autism therapy which is a way that has been proven to improve the condition in children and adults.

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Autism therapy focuses on reducing anti-social behaviour, building communication and social skills, improving sensory integration problems and emotional issues.

While commemorating World Autism awareness day on April 2 at Kati-Kati grounds in Kampala, parents with autistic children were told not to neglect the condition of their autistic children, disregarding it as witchcraft or something that cannot be fixed.

Instead, they were encouraged to consider a therapy specialized for autism conditions which is a four-month non-medical programme that majorly focuses on the physical and mental restructuring of the child.

“We are presenting therapy for autistic children which is a four-month treatment that helps children to speak. Actually 50% of them speak in those four months. Their concentration level eases and eye sight improves as well.” Gad Kirenga from Kunga physiotherapy and rehabilitation centre explained.

According to Kirenga the treatment focuses on treating inflammation in the back, which often affects children’s ability to eat, see, or sleep.

“This treatment is needed just like education. We found out that most of these children have a problem in the back which causes inflammation of the peripheral nerves that connect to the internal organs. Thats why you find that they can’t eat, see or sleep but when we work on them, they sleep peacefully.” He added.

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To Kirenga, the treatment, lasting two hours, involves applying pressure to the back and while some children require four months of therapy, those with speech impediments need only two.

Kirenga said their therapy centre, based in Munyonyo and several other locations, aims to help autistic children speak within four months, with a success rate of 50%. However, despite their international clientele, they seek to raise awareness among Ugandan communities to participate in their non-medicinal treatment, emphasizing that they do not administer oral medication, but solely provide back therapy.

Additionally, minister for disability Grace Hellen Asamo highlighted the challenges faced by autistic individuals, urging for both medical and social attention to promote their well-being.

She criticized the mistreatment and neglect some autistic children endure due to lack of understanding from their parents.

“There are people who are still hiding these children, i want to thank the parents who are here because you are the first person to accept the disability of your child. I have seen some parents throwing away children because they don’t know what to do with them. Some parents have beaten these children because of their hyper activity and they think beating them will lessen it. Parents must learn the items of these kids” Asamo said.

Autism to be considered a disability

Asamo also expressed the need for inclusion of autism in the law and emphasized the importance of government support for individuals with autism.

As a result, she suggested involving the attorney general to ensure its inclusion with other disabilities.

“We recognize autism but am not sure it’s in the law. It should be in the law, if it’s not there, I think I have powers as minister to put it there. Through the attorney general, I can write to them saying that it should be included among disabilities. There is a space that was given for the minister to do that,” Asamo said.

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She hoped for a broader audience in the future to address autism-related issues and praised parents who accept and support their autistic children.

“The nation is yours; you must tell us what you need. And if there are issues of the law, write concepts and come we discuss, and we see how to include you into the law because if you’re not in the law, there’s no way the government will come on board.  How do we get autism to be put in the law, how do we improve, how do we get finance to understand our issues.” Asamo added.

Asamo expressed the importance of including the concerns of the autism association in the disability blueprint, which she plans to present to the president soon.

She therefore requested that someone remains available for further discussion and to take additional issues to be included in the draft blueprint if necessary.

Early diagnosis

On her part, Sarah Kasule Kisutu, the president of the Autism Society in Uganda (ASU) emphasized the need for every parent to know the early diagnosis signs of an autistic child in order to reduce its effect on the child later one.

“The three signs when doing early diagnosis are lack of communication, anti-social behaviour and repetitive behaviour. When you see these in a child even at one- or two-year-old, consider them autistic and get further help,” Kisutu said.

Kisutu discouraged the act of stigmatizing autistic people in society regarding them as bewitched saying autism is a mere condition that can be properly managed.

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However, she asked the government to provide a proper curriculum and teachers that can manage autistic learners.

“These children can create different items in vocational learning, when we do this, we reduce stigma. Let the government consider these children when making a curriculum. Training teachers to manage autistic children is also important for them,” she further explained.

Kisutu requested the government to make the 2nd of April, a nationally recognized day to commemorate Autism awareness just like it is in other countries.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Uganda is estimated to impact 88 people per 10,000 persons in the Ugandan population, the central and eastern regions having the highest number of persons living with Autism.

Autism awareness day celebrations were themed; Practical Steps for inclusion.

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