Categorized | National News

Bringing Autism Out of Shadows—Three Day Workshop To Address Developmental Disorder

It is the face of a child who develops and then loses the ability to say “mama” or “dada,” a child loved and cherished who suddenly becomes distant.

For a parent, having an autistic child is the story of heartbreak, disconnect and even loss.

US Charge D’Affaires, John Dinkleman knows this all too well.

While he has admitted that no parent is ever prepared to hear the words, “I’m sorry, you’re child has autism,” he has had to on two occasions.

“One of the most difficult parts of raising children with autism is an overabundance of confusing and conflicting information regarding causes, treatments and possible cures,” Mr. Dinkleman said at the opening session of a three day workshop, “Autism – Promoting Inclusion, Advocacy and Early Detection.”

“However, it is moments like these where concerned, caring professionals from various levels of expertise come together to converse with one another and to learn from one another, these have helped my families immensely as we have continued our journey in life. It is only by sharing information and experiences that we can all best learn how to deal with autism in our families, our schools and our societies. ”

Prime Minister Perry Christie can relate.

His youngest child, 25-year-old Adam is autistic.

Sharing his own personal struggle, Mr. Christie said while Adam can write, talk and communicate, he sits down and watches his son and see a young man trapped in his body. he does not understand.

“I import into my own thinking that he is trying to say things to me but he cannot verbalise them,” Mr. Christie said.

But it is now time, he said to move beyond the talk, the volunteerism and prayers and crystallise policy.

“People have been praying and praying and now they need some action. I know I owe it to Adam….I have gone through everything – denial, thinking it was Tourettes Syndrome. I had to educate myself. I took it upon myself – as then leader of the Opposition – to sleep many nights with him when he was disturbed. This morning at 3:00am, I brought him in bed with my wife and myself. If he went to bed 5:00a.m, I went to bed 5:00a.m. I just sucked it up,” he shared.

“…Every child in this country must be afforded the right to participate in the equity or the resources of this country.”

As indicated during the 2013/2014 budget, the government is hoping to create a facility on Gladstone Road for those with special needs.

“Special kids will be able to go there and be kept while their parents go to work or even spend the night. There will also be occupational opportunities whether pottery or agricultural,”

“… I imagine they would finish the research next month. The fact of the matter is we’re going to feel good about what we’re doing with respect to the physical premises and the opportunities and therefore we need the expertise.”

According to the National Institute, one in every 88 children born in the U.S. has autism.

There are no real statistics on the disorder in The Bahamas, but assuming that the country’s figures mirror this number this translates into 4,000 people.

Research has also found that one in every 54 boys has the complex developmental disorder and one per cent of the world’s population.

It is a massive figure with massive challenges, but according to the workshop’s facilitator, Dr. Valerie Karr, it also spells massive opportunities.

“The truth is we don’t know what causes autism, but we do know that educational interventions help,” she said.

“Early detection and intensive early intervention can help slower stop the regression with appropriate intervention. Autism is one of those rare issues that can and must bring people together. We all know someone with autism. It is bigger than any one of us and that gives us a rare sense of common purpose in the world.”

Officials are hoping the three day workshop greatly assists in bringing autism out of the shadows and into the mainstream where it belongs.
The goal is to help teachers, social workers, medical professionals and therapists recognise the early signs of autism and to provide an overview of basic, early intervention activities that could potentially be incorporated into school activities.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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