“There is very little awareness about Autism in our country,” said Thiru R. N. Ravi, Governor of Tamil Nadu at the International Conference on ‘Recent Advancements in Autism – Global Perspective’ held at SRM Institute of Science and Technology (SRMIST), Kattankulathur.
He appreciated SRM College of Occupational Therapy (OT) at SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre (SRMCH&RC) for treating Autistic patients for the last two decades.
“The lack of awareness about Autism leads to denial of acceptance of the problem among parents, especially if it is a girl child. In many cases, denial is the first step and acceptance comes much later. So the much-needed intervention is not given to the child. Each child is uniquely affected, so the intervention and needs should be identified.”
“In India, we have over 10 Million people affected with this problem. This disorder is unfolding in a worrisome way and it leads to multi-dimensional implications. Therefore, to ease the situation, it has to be understood in both academic and non-academic angles. This will help us know the extent of the problem to get a better intervention.”
He said that students in this discipline have a huge responsibility towards autistic people. “Some of these affected children have special talents. It is the responsibility of the experts in the industry to understand them and provide the necessary help.” He also emphasised that the mothers of such children are clinically depressed and they too need help.
“The general awareness about autism is very low on personal, social or government levels. In 2016, the Government of India passed a legislation which allowed autistic children to attend normal schools. As per this rule, each school was to hire special educators. However, many States are yet to make this provision.”
He appreciated the ecosystem of education at SRMIST and said it will leave an encouraging impression on anyone who visits it. He then released a souvenir on ‘International Conference on Autism’ and the first copy was received by SRMIST Pro Chancellor (Academics).
“The treatment and awareness of Autism is the need of the hour and relevant to everyone,” said Dr. T. R. Paarivendhar, Founder Chancellor of SRMIST and Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha. “Autism cannot be well-defined as each child is affected in a different way. At SRM’s OT, we are treating about 35 – 40 patients with Autism per day. Overall 5000 patients have been successfully treated since the inception of the college. We also have a sensory garden and Autistic children are encouraged to participate and collectively learn by stimulation of all senses in a natural environment.”
Dr. P. Sathyanarayanan, Pro Chancellor (Academics), SRMIST said, “According to WHO, 1 in 100 children in the world and 1/89 children in India are affected with Autism. Previously, the treatment for Autism was done through Ayurvedia, now Allopathy is offering different types of alternative interventions. The only accepted, proven modality of treatment is performed by the Occupational Therapists. They use sensory stimulation techniques, Neurointergration and speech therapy to improve the responsiveness of the autistic patient and improve communication skills. The aim is to mainstream them with normal society.”
The welcome address was done by SRM MCH&RC’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Medical) Dr. Lt. Col. A. Ravikumar, SRMIST’s Vice Chancellor Dr. C. Muthamizhchelvan felicitated the crowd. He elaborated how SRMIST has been carrying out cutting-edge research in this field. Also present on the occasion were Chengalpattu District Collector A. R. Rahul Nadh, SRMIST’s Registrar Dr. S. Ponnusamy, Dean OT Dr. U. Ganapathy Sankar and other faculty members.