Finding ways to talk
by Roman Gonzalvo Perez
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: My work as a volunteer at an autistic centre here has consisted of trying to implement some modern working methodologies. But, mainly because of some language problems, it wasn't possible to use the newer methodologies, except the work with pictograms you see here.
I was better able to help the children with different games, educational activities, social skills and giving affection. Besides this, I helped my colleagues to create new pictures to work with in individual therapy.
'Autism' is a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
It has long been presumed that there is a common cause at the genetic, cognitive, and neural levels for autism's characteristic triad of symptoms. However, there is increasing tendency to consider that autism is instead a complex disorder whose core aspects have distinct causes that often co-occur.
The main goals of treatment are to lessen associated deficits and family distress, and to increase quality of life and functional independence. No single treatment is best and treatment is typically tailored to the child's needs.
Unfortunately there is no known cure for this disability even though sometimes children recover occasionally. And autism is not well understood in Kyrgyzstan, even though the cases are increasing each year.
The Day Care Centre of Autistic and Mentally Handicapped Children of Bishkek is a social association made up of parents of children with special needs. The parents contribute some funds to the centre, depending on their economic situation.
It is the only children's centre in the whole of Kyrgyzstan working with this kind of disability, with a specific methodology and professional staff specialized in this developmental disorder. In the past it was a specialized centre in Osh City but unfortunately was closed after time.
It is a small organization, with few workers, so they cannot attend to all the demands they get every year. Professionals in the centre work with applied behaviour analysis, developmental models, structured teaching, speech and language therapy, social skills therapy and sometimes with occupational therapy besides the educational interventions that are offered to parents to work with their children at home.
The future of autistic people in Kyrgyzstan starts with better comprehension and popular education about this condition, followed by better support by the social health system and perhaps investment by private sponsors as corporate responsibility.
More new centres specialized in this developmental disorder are really needed, at least in Bishkek and Osh, the biggest cities in Kyrgyzstan.
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