Parents of autistic kids need counselling to accept condition and aid therapy: Doctors
Dr Gadgil added that many autism therapy centres in the city still do not recognise ‘parent counselling’ as an important entity in the course of a child’s therapy.mumbai Updated: Apr 02, 2017 00:31 IST
Diagnosed with autism three years ago, seven-year-old Devansh Das from Goregaon found therapy in his mother’s passion for music.
Every day from 7 pm to 9 pm, Devansh takes singing lessons from his mother who is a trained classical singer.
His parents are still surprised that he showed fondness for singing and developed the skill over time as he has speech problems.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviour, speech and non-verbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.
“A year before he was diagnosed with autism, he had started repeating words that my husband and I said. Sometimes, he said things that had no meaning,” said Devyani,36, his mother. “However, in the evenings when I practice music, he would patiently sit next to me and observe,” she added. Now, Devansh plays the tabla and sings classical Bengali songs by Shipra Basu and Kaushiki with great ease. “It soothes me to see him so involved in an activity,” Devyani said.
Dr Pradnya Gadgil, consultant paediatric neurologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Andheri, who diagnosed Devansh with mild to moderate autism said that his condition has seen a ‘phenomenal improvement’ over time.
“Devansh’s parents accepted his condition early on and almost made it the ‘mission of their life’. But, for a lot of parents whose children are diagnosed with autism, valuable time goes in denial,” she said.
Dr Gadgil added that many autism therapy centres in the city still do not recognise ‘parent counselling’ as an important entity in the course of a child’s therapy.
“The counselling sessions have to go beyond the realms of talking about ‘autism’. It needs to give parents the space to voice their day to day frustrations and struggles,” she added.
Dr Anjali Joshi, an occupational therapist associated with the NGO Forum for Autism said that parents with autistic children tend accept their child’s condition better if they connect with other parents of autistic kids. “There was a woman who was in denial about her child’s autism for months but found some courage to talk about her son’s condition when she interacted with parents who had similar stories to share,” she said.
Doctors said that depression among parents whose children have disabilities is significantly higher compared to other parents. Dr Vibha Krishnamurthy, associated with Ummeed Child Development Centre, Chinchpokli, said that more than children, it is the parents who face the stigma of autism. “The scope of counselling has to be extended to parents, who have normal children. As people in this society, we need to know that, if there is a parent accompanying an autistic child in a garden, the conversation must go beyond, ‘what is wrong with the child? ”she said.