Autis­tic chil­dren get aid

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - National/gender/health News - Robin Muchetu Se­nior Re­porter

A NON-PROFIT mak­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion, Whis­pers of Com­fort has opened a new tech­nol­ogy suite in Bu­l­awayo to cater for chil­dren with autism.

Autism is a neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­der that is char­ac­terised by im­paired so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, im­paired ver­bal and non-ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and re­stricted repet­i­tive be­hav­iour.

Whis­pers of Com­fort found­ing trus­tee Mrs Tina Nor­bury said the tech­nol­ogy suite has a com­puter lab­o­ra­tory with 14 com­put­ers where un­der-priv­i­leged chil­dren with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties will study.

“We have a dif­fer­ent way of teach­ing, we be­lieve we should not change an autis­tic child but change teach­ing meth­ods.

“We have put in tools in the form of com­puter soft­ware that help them to achieve dif­fer­ent tasks,” she said.

Mrs Nor­bury said in most in­stances, chil­dren with autism were not in­cluded in ac­tiv­i­ties as many peo­ple were not sure of how to han­dle the af­fected.

“It is not easy to di­ag­nose it, which means some peo­ple live with autism and they are not known.

“This is one of a kind in the coun­try, as we can see well wish­ers are as­sist­ing var­i­ous other causes and dis­abil­i­ties but silent on autism,” said Mrs Nor­bury.

Chil­dren with autism usu­ally de­lay in their stages of de­vel­op­ment such as speak­ing and walk­ing.

They are also sen­si­tive to light, noise and they do not like be­ing in crowds.

She said when par­ents no­tice odd so­cial be­hav­iours in their chil­dren they should seek as­sis­tance from a speech and lan­guage ther­a­pist as it may be autism.

“At cer­tain stages of growth, a child should have achieved cer­tain mile­stones and when they do that it is im­por­tant to seek help.

“With autis­tic chil­dren they tend to like one par­tic­u­lar toy over oth­ers, they play alone and they present as shy chil­dren or very naughty chil­dren.

“This is a way of ex­press­ing them­selves and a cry for help too,” she added.

Whis­pers of Com­fort aims to part­ner with speech and lan­guage ther­a­pists in the city to re­fer chil­dren with signs of autism to the re­source cen­tre.

(Mon­day to Fri­day) 6-6.30am; 1.15-2pm; 5-6pm. Week­ends: all other times re­main the same ex­cept for the evening which changes to 4-6pm.

MATER DEI Hospi­tal: All wards: (daily) 10am-12 noon; 4.30-6.30pm.

6am-6pm ev­ery­day.

CLAY BANK (Pvt) Hospi­tal (Gweru): Morn­ing: 10am-11am. Evening: 4pm-6pm (Daily, week­ends and hol­i­days).

KWEKWE Gen­eral Hospi­tal: All wards (Mon­day

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