From defining autism to explaining about the causes, signs and difficulties faced by children with autism along with strategies on how to improve these difficulties and manage autism was discussed during an awareness lecture on autism by occupational therapist at Sethu, Mahera Kantawalla. The lecture was organised by Goa Science Centre in collaboration with Sethu Centre for Child Development, Porvorim on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day.
Mahera began her session by explaining to the audience present about what exactly autism is. She said: “Autism is a lifelong neuro-developmental disability. It affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people.” She added that it also affects how they make sense of the world around them.
Speaking about the cause of autism, Mahera said that some changes in genetics may lead to autism along with environmental factors that also play a very important role. “We are still not able to find the actual cause of autism but we are now definite that it is mostly due to the contribution of both genetics as well as the environmental factors,” she added.
Explaining the three core symptoms of autism with various degrees of severity, she said: “The three main areas that impact children with autism are their social interaction, impaired communication and restricted and repetitive behaviours.”
Mahera further informed that people with autism are not broken or ill to be fixed. She said: “We do not try to cure them; we try to support them and help them learn to function in their day-to-day life. Therefore, we need to look at the strengths, abilities of individuals.”
Talking about early detection and early intervention of autism, Mahera urged parents not to overlook signs of autism in their children and detect them at as early a stage as possible. “Early detection and early intervention is the key to see a good progress in children with autism,” she added. Mahera also stated that no two people with autism are alike.
An animatied video explaining how to deal with autistic behaviour of children was shown to the audience. Also present on the occasion was project coordinator of Goa Science Centre, Miramar, MMK Balaji. The function concluded with an interactive session.