Autism In Eritrea - Up From Handicap
|Infant receiving medication in an Asmara clinic|
Autism In Eritrea - Up From Handicap
By Haile Bokure,
Autism spectrum is the fastest growing developmental disability the world over. Few years ago, there was one autistic for every 20,000 live births, but today one for every 150. This type of neurological disability is prevalent among boys. They are very handsome, and look normal at first encounter. Perceptually, they are visually-oriented and could see and identify even a tiny object in detail. This is because their brain faculty is modulated in that order just to compensate their deficit as manifested in verbal expression. However, due to the advance of educational and assistive technology their ability to express their needs is improving gradually.
Autism is the latest type of handicap to be identified in Eritrea. This has to do not only with global awareness, but with the progress of health delivery and increment of medical personnel who are open to share their knowledge and expertise with Eritrean public.
Lack of diagnosis, the autistic were and still are merely seen as dumb or mentally retarded. Due to wide spectrum of autism, each is different who needs a specialized treatment in all areas of life. Some are highly functional who need a minor intervention while others are severely affected who require a holistic approach in an effort to develop life skills. As described, some have an artistic bent due to their photographic memory attributed to their highly visual perception; others are good in music by virtue of their above average acoustic sensitivity. They can tell you the result of complex mathematical problem not by figuring out, but by recalling the exact solution. Just like twelve times twelve that everyone can tell without calculation. Few are deaf with whom I used to work at educational setting. They can improve their expressive skills by learning sign language one-on-one bases. That is by developing individualized educational program (IEP) in an effort to meet the special needs of each student.
Autism was discovered in the fifties based on behavioral manifestation such as withdrawal which is more pronounced. However, the exact causes of this complex handicap have not been identified in medical field. It is indiscriminate type of handicap regardless of race or economic status. But according to repeated observation, the parents of autistic children seem to be highly educated or naturally intelligent as long as the genetic aspects of its syndrome are concerned. According to Dr. Temple who is mildly autistic herself, some of the greatest American scientists such as Albert Einstein and Bill Gate are believed to have had some mild autism due to their attraction to electromagnetic light that revolutionized the light theory and computer technology. As most Autistic do, Albert used to think in light or picture, and as such, his theory is based in that order. That is why his formula is still incomprehensible to thinking scientists who are well adapted to abstract reasoning.
The treatment of autistic children is costly, and it demands a highly trained personnel and educational resources in an effort to help them grow intellectually, socially, emotionally as contributing members of our society in the making. I hope that parental intervention in Eritrea coupled with public and societal support would alleviate the problems of acoustic children to some degree. The recent meeting of founding members in Eritrea is a case in point. They can act as spokesmen and spokeswomen of their speechless children. Our autistic children are not alone as long as they have a thoughtful parents who love them for who they are. Up from handicap.
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