In the movie “Life Animated”, Owen Suskind at an age of three is unable to communicate and the parents soon discover that he has autism. After trying many therapies with professional help, Owen is able to communicate through animated movies. Owen’s story is an example for those parents whose children suffer from ASD.
The story of Owen is not a stand-alone in the world. As April is observed as World Autism Month, many youngsters are coming up with the idea of films and working for the welfare of the children suffering from this disorder. Not only young filmmakers but psychiatrists are also opening up on the issue and granting free consultancy to these people.
A young Mumbai & Los Angeles-based filmmaker Shivalik Shankar has also made a film on this. Shankar says, “My film ‘Let Me Be’ shows the daily challenges of an autistic kid and his parents, and most importantly the parents who have to put more time and effort to take care of their child. Through my story, I have shown how the affected child tries to communicate with his parents, but it’s very hard for them to meet his needs. So he lives in a world of imagination where we get to see how he wants to live his life just like a normal person who wants to enjoy and cherish every moment he has in his life.”
Not only films but young psychiatrists are also offering help and consultancy to such parents of autistic children who are deprived of any consultancy. Dr. Shamsi Akbar, a clinical psychologist in the KGMC Lucknow has been offering free online consultancy and has been receiving calls from Mumbai, Chennai, and also small places like Lakhimpur Kheri for the purpose. She says, “Autism is a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate or interact. ASD or Autism spectrum disorder impacts the nervous system and affects the overall cognitive, emotional, social and physical health of the affected individual.”
She says the severity of symptoms can vary but common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors. Children avoid eye contact and can have a loss of hearing and it can be detected as early as 18 months and therapies can be initiated. In India, as per the latest studies, it is believed that 1 out of 100 children in India under 10 years of age have autism, and nearly 1 in 8 children has at least one neurodevelopmental condition.
April 2 has been marked as World Autism Awareness Day, followed by the month-long observation. An estimated three million people live with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) on the Indian subcontinent, according to a report. Those reports also indicated an increase in the prevalence of autism in India over the years. “Once considered rare, the current understanding is that autism is in fact one of the more common developmental disabilities,” Says Dr.Akbar.
How to treat Autism
First of all, accept your child and focus on how your child is different from others. Unfortunately, there is no cure for ASD but therapy can help like behavioral therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and play therapy.
When your child has autism educate yourself about the treatment.
1. Reward good behavior
2. Make time for fun
3. Build your child’s interests
4. Regular reinforcement of good behavior
5. Search what is the child’s strength and weakness
6. How does the child learn and enjoy
7. Spend more and more time with the child
8. Joining an ASD support group
9. Joining an ASD school for better response.(IANS/JC)