A government hospital in Jammu and Kashmir has opened a therapy center for autistic patients, in a bid to make treatment for autism available for all. The Department of Psychiatry of the Government Medical College launched first-of-its kind center at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar to help the parents having troubles in finding proper treatment for the disorder.
The children are treated by remedial educators, speech therapists and development therapists through a unique module. The parents are also given guidance and training on how to work with their children.
Dr. Shabnam, a therapist, said the centre has brought a new hope for the parents. "Autistic children will benefit from this centre as we don't have many facilities for autistic children here. Most of the parents have to go out and the treatment outside is very expensive. There are parents, who cannot afford it and their children remain untreated, although doctors help these children but the basic faculties including remedial education is not given to them. For this purpose, we have opened this centre and children from far off places are coming here and availing benefits," added Shabnam.
Along with the therapy centre, an outpatient department (OPD) for routine check-up of children with psychiatric problems has also been started.
"By the grace of god, my child is fine now. He can now walk, run, talk and do all other activities. He is a normal baby now because of this therapy. I have been to many pediatricians, but nobody told me to visit a physiotherapy centre," said Romana, the mother of a patient. "I am very happy that it has started here because most of the people from villages, who have no knowledge, will get a lot of help. Most of the people from villages prefer going to a government hospital. It is a big thing that such a centre has come up at a government hospital," she added.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) changed the classification of autism 15 years ago, from a disease to a disorder. According to WHO, the disorder is characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication and a restricted and repetitive repertoire of interests and activities, across a wide spectrum of manifestations and severity.
The exact causes of the neuro-developmental disorder are not known, but evidence shows they are likely to include a range of genetic and environmental factors.