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April, 2019

Parents Consider Autism As Taboo- But This Is Changing

Autism Treatment

Over the past 5 years, Sakra has seen over 100’s of children seeking intervention and therapy for Autism, a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact. It is difficult to recognize a child who has early signs of autism which can be detected as early as 3 months of age. Early intervention is the key to a better prognosis. As the brain development is crucial during the initial 3 years of age, diagnosis before 3 years can make a significant change in child functional status. 

The autistic child requires an integrated approach where all the services/therapies are available for them under one roof. Parents often shuffle one place to other places for comprehensive care but end with going to a canter where no facility. The child ends up in delay in recovery. An Integrated approach also allows the therapist to pick up other issue and modify the programmes on the basis and tailor or customise it according to a child’s need. Parents counselling and their involvement in treatment very essential.

Normally, Occupation Therapist, Physiotherapist & Speech Therapist are involved in the therapy sessions. A physiotherapist gets involved in treatment if a child has any physical issues such as balance, weakness in the limbs, postural instability, endurance, fitness, motor planning and gait abnormalities. Behavioural Therapy by child psychologist is also vital. Canine therapy by trained canine therapists (use of animals such as dogs or horses allow bonding of the kids with the animals) also helps in recovery. 

At Sakra, a session for parents known as ‘Parents Share’ a forum for parents is also conducted to support the parents of a child with Autism, we're educating and training the parents along with socialising with other parents require similar needs.

Case Study:

Rajeev is a 1year 8-month-old child whose parents noticed there was a delay in speech, restlessness and was not able to walk properly.  They consulted a Paediatrician outside who found Rajeev to have signs and symptoms of Autism spectrum disorder. He was referred to Sakra World Hospital for further assessment and intervention. On complete detailed assessment, Rajeev had various Autistic traits like restlessness, delayed in speech, poor eye to eye contact and gross motor delay and sensory issues.

He was started on comprehensive rehabilitation programs like occupational therapy, physiotherapy, behavioural therapy, sensory integrative therapy, cognitive-perceptual training and speech therapy intervention on a regular basis until the age of 2 and half year when he started going to school. His sensory issues started to resolve after sensory integrate therapy. His hyperactivity and restlessness reduced significantly. He was able to balance and walk properly. Speech therapy was also initiated which showed remarkable progress. Often parents come to know later when the kids start going to school where they are not able to settle properly with other children and follow the instructions. In these cases, functional recovery is compromised due to delay in intervention.  

Another challenge with Rajeev was difficulty in interacting with his peers. So group therapy was initiated. The group sessions were given for kids having autistic traits on a weekly basis. Along with this, his day to day activities was also monitored and trained for feeding, dressing and toilet training. Post the group therapy, Rajeev was able to cope up with his issue and was able to handle well at school and socialize comfortably among his companion. He was also able to control his temper tantrum, became calmer, able to do all the activities by himself, started to framing sentences and communicate well. 

“The tag of Autism itself is a sensitive word for the parents to accept. It is considered taboo to some extent. At Sakra world hospital, we make sure Autistic child been treated comprehensively.  We don’t address them as Autistic child. Parent counselling is very important until the parents don’t accept that their child needs help and difficult to provide interventions and therapy. Once people thought that Autism is not a treatable condition. With assessment, intervention and therapy the child functional status can be improved. So, Intervention plays an important role in making differences. Sometimes, the kids are presented much later after parents have consulted various doctors for proper diagnosis thus creating a child to respond lesser to the therapy sessions. By the age of 4-5 years, Autism’s symptoms are well established and at this stage, treatment becomes less effective”, said Dr.Maheswarappa B.M., Senior Consultant and HOD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine, Sakra world Hospital
Rajeev underwent multiple therapy sessions of Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech therapy and Group sessions at Sakra for the past two years. He is now three and a half years old, goes to regular school and is able to perform well. He comes for regular follow-ups to find out if there are any deficit areas.

Dr. Maheswarappa B.M.
Senior Consultant & HOD - Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine

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