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Experts: Care is what children with autism need most

  • Published at 07:15 pm April 27th, 2019
Participants in a session of the ‘Embrace Differences’ event, organized by Inner Circle on the occasion of Autism Awareness Month, on Saturday Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

In different sessions, at the day-long “Embrace Differences” event in Dhaka on Saturday, they discussed the various ways in which behavioural issues resulting from autism could be counteracted and managed

Experts have stressed on the need for care and good parenting practices, to ensure that children with autism could lead a normal life.

In different sessions, at the day-long “Embrace Differences” event in Dhaka on Saturday, they discussed the various ways in which behavioural issues resulting from autism could be counteracted and managed.

 “Embrace Differences” was organized by Inner Circle Dhaka, a centre that provides interventions for children with additional needs, on the occasion of Autism Awareness Month. Inner Circle was set up by the SAJIDA Foundation, a non-government organization, in collaboration with the Autism Recovery Network (ARN) in 2017.

The event was open to parents, teachers, professionals, and anyone interested in good parenting practice, and how to deal with children with additional needs.

Inner Circle Manager Onaiza Owais, Head of Operations Faria Rahman, and ARN founder Dino Trakakis addressed the opening session.

In his speech, Dino Trakakis emphasized the need for parents to use proper techniques and methodology when dealing with children with autism.

“Parents have to make right choice at the right time for their children. All we can do is hope,” he said.

After the opening session, complimentary parent consultations with international experts were offered for the visitors to the event.

Urging the expansion of health services in rural areas, Special guest Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed, associate professor of child adolescent & family psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and secretary general of Bangladesh Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (BACAMH), said: “What children with autism need most is care. It would be great if this centre could provide their services to people who live outside Dhaka, or have been through financial crisis.”

ARN Singapore behavioural consultant Harshita Bhatt conducted a session titled “How to make a child listen to their parents.” The discussion helped participants understand the basic principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis-Verbal Behaviour (ABA-VB) therapy, building meaningful interactions with children, capturing a child’s motivation in different ways, and how to teach early communication skills through mand/request training.

She suggested that parents should build a trust-based relationship with their children, using positive sentences as opposed to negative commands. “Instead of saying ‘don’t do this or that,’ tell and show them what they should do.” 

Sharon May, a program supervisor of ARN, conducted a session on “How to prepare a child for mainstream schooling.” She discussed key decision-making factors needed to make an informed decision on whether a child with autism is ready for mainstream learning.

Michelle Domingo, another program supervisor of ARN, conducted a session titled “How to encourage a child to play and interact with other children,” discussing the skills that children with autism would need to develop in order to adapt to various social settings.

International consultant for Inner Circle and speech therapist, Sum Hui Ting discussed ways to get a child with autism to talk, as children with autism and developmental delays often experience speech, language, social-communication, and feeding difficulties.

Guo Hua, another international consultant and occupational therapist of Inner Circle, gave insights into occupational therapy, focusing on sensation, perception and learning.

Furthermore, Harshita Bhatt and Sharon May conducted a session titled “How to deal with difficult behaviours.” The discussion centered on the basic behavioural principles used to analyze both appropriate and undesired behaviour, and on how to increase appropriate behaviour by developing positive instructional control.

Mozaffor Hossain Chowdhury, the father of a four-year-old who attended the discussions, told Dhaka Tribune his son is struggling with verbal speech and was restless.

 “After coming to this event, I feel like there is so much more to know about parenting and the relationship with our children. The discussions not only help in the case of children with additional needs, but also for other children. I have learned a lot on how I should behave with my child as a parent,” he said.

The SAJIDA Foundation was founded as a small school for disadvantaged children in 1987, and has since expanded to providing microcredit products alongside quality healthcare services, and various social development programs across 22 districts of Bangladesh.

ARN is a leading Applied Behavior Analysis - Verbal Behavior (ABA-VB) therapy service provider in Asia for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or without formal diagnoses. They have been providing quality treatment programs in Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Taiwan and Indonesia since 2005.  

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