News Detail

Addressing children with autism

Published On:2017-03-03 12:00:00

23 FEB 2017


faith Bangladesh- a non-profit organisation based in Bangladesh – to improve therapeutic practices and raise awareness around the care of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Every challenged child has different needs and there is no one-size-fits-all intervention. Photo: TTU / icddr,b

The Ministry of Social Welfare of Bangladesh estimated that about 1.4 million people, and one in every 500 children, in the country have ASD. However, the number of diagnosed individuals with autism are not many, partially due to autism related stigma and lack of knowledge by both parents and health professionals.

Shawly Rahman, a Bangladeshi homemaker and mother of an autistic child, is very keen to learn about the phenomenon of sensory integration. Sensory integration is a fundamental neurological process that underlies our subjective experience of the world. The term refers to the integration of multiple sensory modalities by the brain – sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste as well as the lesser-known inner senses of proprioception (body awareness) and the vestibular senses (balance, gravity).


Parents learn to improve dysfunctional sensory integration in challenged children. Photo: TTU / icddr,b

Many disabilities, including autism, result in dysfunctional sensory integration and this can cause a lot of suffering and distress for those affected. Shawly’s son Farhan Akber, a toddler, requires special care in this area. Determined to provide her son with the best care, Shawly has enrolled herself in a workshop on methods and activities to treat and improve dysfunctional sensory integration in disabled children.

ManishSamnani, a certified sensory integration therapist from India, was explaining how teaching a child to zip and unzip a chain could eventually help them to hold a pencil steadily. The workshop also had a live demonstration on how to interact with special needs children properly to optimise their recovery and alleviate their symptoms.


Live demonstration for parents to interact with special-needs children. Photo: TTU / icddr,b

Shawly commended the initiative to hold this workshop and said, “Bangladeshi parents lack the necessary knowledge and understanding of interventions to deal with autistic children. Every challenged child has different needs and there is no one size fits all intervention. The agony that we go through while raising our challenged child is colossal, our increased knowledge of therapeutic interventions would definitely improve the condition of the suffering child and the environment surrounding him.”

Representatives from several government agencies attended the concluding workshop, Nilufer Ahmed Karim, Chairperson of faith Bangladesh, chaired the session while Dr Aftab Uddin, head of the technical training unit at icddr,b, moderated it. Dr Aftab said, “We have a common misperception that differently able children are our burden. In reality we lack understanding of how to unlock their potential and turn them into our resource.”