“Will my son talk? Is it only a small delay in speech or does my child have autism? Which expert should I go to? Anxious parents of children with autism had answers to many of these questions at the 3rd BMI International Conference on Autism concluded at the Hitex International Convention Center here today.
The two-day congress organized by Behavior Momentum India Foundation, titled Autism-Diagnosis to Treatment-No Child Left Behind, enabled Meaningful Inclusion, aimed to bring parents, eminent Indian and International behavioural experts, Speech and Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Medical experts to one platform and discussed the sustainable solution towards inclusion.
The rise in autism is epidemic with a prevalence of 1 in 66 children in India being affected as per reports from INCLEN Institute of Global Health, 2012. The number of children affected is estimated at around one crore, which warrants more awareness and a better understanding of autism.
Behaviour Momentum India Foundation (www.bmi-foundation.org) is a pioneer in educating and empowering children with autism using principles based on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). With 10 centres, it caters to over 300 children and families affected by autism across India. Established in 2013, It has projects such as sponsoring Education and Early Intervention Services for children from low-income families, building a self-sustaining village with residential facilities for adults with autism, creating a skilled pool of frontline therapists, and organizing autism knowledge conferences.
Delivering her presidential address, the Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment Shakuntala Gamlin spoke on the need for moving from a medical model to a medical-rehabilitation model for treating children on the ASD spectrum and Intellectual disabilities. She articulated her vision for the National Health Mission under which “Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakran(RBSIC)” will use multidisciplinary teams at PHC level to screen all children for developmental disabilities and provide the early intervention series which are imperative. She elaborated on the importance of inclusion at all levels for these children to have a more empowered life with dignity.
The others who spoke on the occasion include Principal Secretary, MA &UD, Government of Telangana Arvind Kumar, Principal Secretary, Disability Commissioner, Govt. of Telangana Jagadeeswar and Director of NIEPID Anuradha Dalmia.