Rahela Begum (not her real name) got married with Bangladeshi expatriate in Kuwait Nezam Uddin in 1996 when she was only 17. Just after one year of their marriage, Rahela became the mother of a baby boy. After passage of one and a half years, the parents of the boy plunged into abyss of anxieties when they realized
that their child was not normal. Ironically Rahela has been gripped with a daunting task of curing his beloved son.
She communicated with a doctor and the doctor informed her that her baby is autistic. The doctor advised her how to deal with this baby.
Rahela also communicated with a few other mothers whose babies were suffering from autism. Finally they decided to open a school for their children as well as others who are also autistic.
Rahela and other devoted parents opened the school ‘Society of the welfare of Autistic Children’ (SWAK) in 2000. The aim of SWAC is educating and training individuals with autism to develop to their fullest potentials and improve the quality of their live.
Principal of the school Sabina Hossain said the special children are given study on the basis of their age at the school. The children also are given vocational training so that they become self-employed in future.
She said, “Now we have 117 special children and 51 teachers. Among the students, 16 are from underprivileged families. They are studying here free of cost.”
Urging family members who have a special child, Sabina said autism is not a curse. It’s a neurological problem.
They would be an asset for society if they got proper care and facilities, she said, adding the country could not move forward ignoring the children suffering from autism.
She also urged the rich men to extend their cooperation to build such organizations for the special children.
The government is also taking different programmes for the autistic children, she said, adding, “We should extend our cooperation to the government.”
Head of Centre for Neuro Development and Autism in Children of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Dr Shaheena Akther said autism is a neurological problem. The three main areas affected by the disorder are speech or communication, social skills, and behaviour, she added.
Individuals with autism do not necessarily look obviously different from others, but may be impaired in their speech, behaviour, learning, and the way they perceive the world around them, she said.
Dr Shaheena said the symptoms appear before the age of 3 years, but in many cases diagnosis of such children is conducted after three years. Almost all parents come across the symptoms within the first two years of their children.
A child with autism may appear unaware of his surroundings, Shaheena said, adding he may also fail to respond to the sights and sounds of a social world. Often, with limited speech and language skills, the children follow a different development pattern compared to other children in the same age group. He/she has difficulty in
playing with other children and making friends.
Dr Shaheena urged the family members who have a special child to be more attentive to their child.