Blue hues melt hearts
By Arpana Adhikari
Kathmandu, Apr. 3: The Gaddi Baithak Palace, one of the focal attractions of the Kathmandu Durbar Square UNESCO World Heritage Site on Tuesday evening made a spectacular view, leaving many visitors beholden to this unique spectacle.
A visitor’s jubilation caused by blue hues only increased when the children dressed up in a blue t-shirts walked along a ramp. Their performance melted the hearts of many people around.
Shortly after, the people came to realise that they were the children with special condition called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the event was a part of a global initiative shedding light on autism with the illumination of iconic landmark building during the Autism Awareness and Acceptance month.
Along with the Gaddi Baithak Palace, thousands of buildings, landmarks and homes around the world were illuminated in blue light as part of an initiative to raise awareness about autism.
The Autism Care Nepal Society, a non-governmental organization, run by the parents of autistic children to support and advocate for the rights of persons with autism, have taken initiation to raise awareness in national level.
The World Autism Awareness Day is marked on April 2 every year. This year the day is marked with the theme, “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.”
The special Day was created through a resolution of the United National General Assembly in 2007 to educate the people worldwide about ASD.
Dr. Neelam Gautam, Secretary of the Society, said the Day is dedicated to raise awareness about autism, which is a neural development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, speech and non-verbal communication, repetitive behaviors , as well as unique strength and differences among some autistic persons.
Today’s event at the iconic Gaddi Baithak aimed at raising global awareness and attention with regards to the characteristics and difficulties faced by persons in the autism and their families, she added.
There were thousands of children with autism in the country who were deprived of education because the government seems apathy to introduce special education programmes for such children.
The parents of the autistic children have no choice because the schools refuse to enroll their children, said Kripa Shresatha, a child trainer at the society adding that the government must listen to their appeal and create a learning environment for autistic children which could lead them to live a meaningful and independent life.
The parents presented at the event shared how their children are being deprived of the education, proper care and treatment in a lack of special education centers autism
care school and autism health care centers.
Shrestha, who is also a mother of autistic son, said autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders. This caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences but the actual reason behind the ASD is still unknown.
Though there is no actual data of the people living with autism in Nepal, on an average 28 new cases of autism is diagnosed monthly in the society and the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH).
As per the estimation of World Health Organisation (WHO), there are around 300,000 people with autism in Nepal.
According to the US based Center for Disease Control, the autism rate has risen from one in each 101 children in 2008 to one in each 59 children in 2018.
While as male child are five times likely to develop autism than in female child, said Surendra Bajracharya of the society.
Autism is reliably diagnosed at 24 months and evidence-based interventions. In some cases, it is diagnosed as early as 18-months, said Shrestha.
“Since autism is a spectrum disorder, it affects people to varying degrees. If we observe 20 persons with autism, then every autistic person has different degrees of autism. So each child with autism is unique, treatment and teaching is based on the specific needs of a child,” said Shrestha.
The parents of autistic children have expressed their worries over the future of their children. “What after us? Is always a big questions for the parents, they shared.
The government should secure access to care and support, continuous education, and the fundamental right for inclusion in all facets of life, said Gautam.