The rates of Autism are increasing in India and around the world. In Goa, there is a dearth of professionals trained to work with people with autism and their families. Further, every child that is diagnosed comes with their unique set of strengths and challenges and research has shown that early intervention can bring about far reaching changes in the development and communication of children with autism.
Children that are diagnosed with autism by the psychologist or developmental pediatrician are assessed through play-based and structured observations with the aim of finding out the impact of autism on their communication, social skills, play and overall behaviour. We also assess how children interact with their parents and other family members. We always take into consideration the strengths of each family since families play the most important role in children’s intervention. Their concerns are of utmost importance and are dealt with primarily.
After assessing the children and taking the concerns of the family into consideration, a plan for intervention is made and goals are set. Setting of goals depends on the strengths of each family and the needs of the child. At Sethu we use evidence based techniques with our children like developmental approaches, features of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), TEACCH, Pivotal Response Training (PRT), Discrete Trial Training (DTT) etc. The primary aim of these techniques is to increase children’s play skills, reduce behaviours that are difficult to manage, increase communication and social interaction. Since these techniques are not rocket-science, parents and caregivers are encouraged to sit in on sessions and observe the therapists working with their children so that they can practice the same at home.
We conduct 2 training programs for families of children with autism – ‘Aarambh’ which is a 5 –day training on supporting children with autism and ‘Asha’ which is a 3 month early intervention parent-toddler training program. We also run P.E.E.R.S which a social skills training program for teenagers with autism and/or socialization difficulties.