Parents get tips to deal with autistic kids

MUSCAT, Oct 14 – Parents have been taught how to deal with kids with disabilities and development issues, especially autistic children, at a workshop. Titled ‘Strategies to Deal with Autistic Children for Parents’, the two-day workshop is on at the Majan Continental Hotel.
The Ministry of Health, represented by Department of Health Education and Awareness’ Mental Health wing, has brought together experts to help parents deal with such children and provide better care. Experts will listen to parents of specially-abled children, their caretakers and volunteers and recommend better strategies to help rehabilitate them.
“Parents of autistic children or those with mental/ cognitive disabilities need to be trained first before they can address the personal issues of these children,” said Dr Amira al Ra’aidan, Director, Health Education and Awareness Department. The mother of an autistic child told the Observer most schools refuse to admit such children. “They don’t want autistic children to sit with other children. Finding a school with an inclusion programme for them is really tough.”
A major challenge for her is the society’s reluctance to accept these children like any other children. “Ignoring these children would be devastating for them,” she said.
The event, coordinated by Muzna al Balushi, Mental Health Coordinator at the MoH, said once the children are diagnosed with autism, parents should not wait to approach a specialist for training and rehabilitation.
There are two main centres in Oman for treating such children: Oman Autism Society and Speciality Centre for Autism. There are less than 40,000 cases of autism in Oman, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI). Other reports suggest the country has more than 60,000 people in different age groups suffering some kind of disability, both mental and physical.

KABEER YOUSUF