The month of April every year has been declared Autism Awareness Month worldwide. ASD or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which is the medical term, affects 1 in every 100 children. 

The Rising Sun spoke to Vanessa Govender, whose son is autistic, “My son Riveshin Govender, who is now 16 years, has had autism from the age of 2.  A majority of children with autism are non-verbal, have severe outbursts in public, have problems socialising, are sensitive to loud sounds and practically live in a world of their own”. 

She went on to explain, “To this very day there remains no cure for this complex disorder.  Many doctors and professors have speculated that the vaccine received by infants in the first years after birth could be the cause, but, of course, this cannot be scientifically proven.  Families living with ASD children are thus left helpless and vulnerable as the special schools available to these children are either unaffordable or too full.

Thus, many of these children are being home schooled and are heavily medicated to control their behaviour and outbursts.  If you are wealthy, you can afford the private services of professionals, therapists and doctors.  But in a society like ours, it is heart wrenching, since a majority of families struggle with these children as they have to meet their basic needs first.  As a working mum, living with a child who has autism is a daily challenge”.   “You just never can predict what your day will be like since these children have their own traits of obsessions and routines.  The misconceptions of society is that these children are mentally unstable and are stupid due to their repetitive behaviours and ongoing meltdowns in public.

These uncontrollable screaming and aggressive outbursts by children with autism are misconstrued by society as poor parenting.  On the contrary, their brains work on a higher level and many of them are high functioning, which means they are able to attend mainstream schools.  “Going out in public is a mammoth task and my son as well as many other ASD children have had to contend with society’s negativity and nasty comments”, Govender said. 

“My aim, through this medium, is to enlighten you, the society, to accept and understand these children and not to treat them as damaged goods. Once we can do that, only then will we be able to able to love them unconditionally, without criticism and assist them to deal with their challenges. I would like to say to those families, you are not alone in your struggles.

As a society, I implore you, to change your perspectives and mindset on people with autism by taking the time to understand and be tolerant of their daily challenges”, she concluded.

25 April 2019

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25 April 2019