|A session involving parents of autistic children in Kalyani|
SUBHASISH CHAUDHURI, TT, Kalyani, April 5: A forum of parents of autistic children has started counselling people in Nadia to develop awareness on autism and how to look for symptoms in children.
The forum members said early detection of autism was the most important requirement for better management.
The parents' support group, Kalyani Life Institute, which is accredited to the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities under the Union ministry of social justice and welfare, launched the awareness drive last week.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder with distinctive features of impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviour.
The secretary of the group, Siddhartha Sankar Mukhopadhyay, said: "This is an awareness programme for couples and individuals aimed at understanding the early symptoms of autism and its required management. Our objective is to make people aware so they can educate society as a whole."
Mukhopadhyay, an officer of the land and land reforms department, said he had an autistic daughter.
The awareness programme will be held every day in Kalyani town and will involve parents and special teachers.
Manoj Pramanik, a special teacher, said parents often fail to identify the early signs of autism because of lack of awareness.
"If a child's neck does not stiffen within three months, or he or she cannot sit up within six months or fails to walk within a year, and does not express some coherent words, parents should consult a doctor. The early symptoms of autism are usually clear by two years. So, an early identification of the problem can immensely help in early management," Pramanik said.
A.K. Prasad, a doctor with Eastern Railways and president of the group, said: "Being parents of autistic children, we would like to share our experience with other couples and individuals so that they become aware about this disorder. Every autistic child suffers from different autism spectrum disorder. Generally, the problems fall into three categories - social impairment, communication difficulties and repetitive behaviour. We will try to make people understand these early symptoms."
Pradip Kumar Mohanty, a surgeon with JNM hospital in Kalyani who has an autistic son, said spreading the awareness among parents was extremely important.
"Lack of knowledge often affects the children. Such awareness drive will educate members of the public and help curb prejudices about the disease," said Mohanty.