‘Autism is a condition, not a disease’
KOCHI: Of the 22 autistic children who attended the residential camp organised by the district panchayat at Muvattupuzha, quite a few were taking medications; some almost five tablets a day. Autism expert Dr C P Aboobacker's foremost chore was to sensitise them against it.
"My primary task was to make parents and caretakers aware of the fact that autism isn't a disease, rather a condition. Hence, children who come on the autism spectrum do not need medication. There is a trend in Kerala where people seek medication and therapy to 'cure' autism. We wanted to create awareness on the issue," says Aboobacker.
The 10-day camp conducted in association with the National Rural Health Mission had 22 children and parents attending sessions which included theory and practical classes. All the participants were selected from autism clubs and early detection centres.
All the expenses of the camp, that concluded on Wednesday, were borne by the district panchayat.
"There are still a lot of stigma and wrong practices prevalent in society with regard to autism. Many parents give children the medication prescribed for mentally ill patients.
These can lower the hyperactivity of the kids, but they are extremely damaging to their brains. Through the camp, we aim to dispel such practices and help parents manage autistic children with behavioural issues," says Aboobacker.
The camp also gave hands-on training to parents on managing their stress. Most parents with autistic kids battle enormous stress and tension, affecting their lives.
"Due to the social stigma associated with having an autistic kid, most parents lead an extremely stressful life. We taught how to relax, through yoga and other techniques," said Aboobacker.
Those who attended the camp were given certificates. The National Rural Health Mission is also planning to organise a follow-up session in three months.