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AUTISM MASS MEETING (article first published : 2007-01-26)

Action in Autism, a registered non profit organisation constituted to lobby, support and fundraise for children diagnosed with autism, invites parents of autistic children, caregivers, educators and people with autism to a mass meeting on February 3

Autism occurs in the first three years of life. People with autism show marked impairment in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and limited and restricted interests and behaviour. It is a neurodevelopment disorder, and is not caused by bad parenting.

Every child is unique in the way the condition manifests. There is ongoing uncertainty about the cause, treatment, intervention and prognosis within the condition. Although statistics locally and worldwide vary, recent statistics maintain that 1 in 165 children have Autism. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls. The cost of caring and providing for a child with autism is vast - the child in most cases requires 24 hour care. Many parents are unable to take their children into public spaces. Research has shown that early educational intervention is the cornerstone to successful integration of children with autism into society.

"Action in Autism receives most of its funding from parents and kind benefactors from society." says Chairperson of Action in Autism, Lisa Aziz. "Two of the members of our executive committee recently attended the World Congress on Autism in Cape Town in November last year, which provided insight, information, research and knowledge on the latest trends and interventions, both medical and educational, available to our children with autism.

“Acknowledging that most of our members would not have been able to access the R7,000 it cost to attend the conference, we find it imperative that these members report back to stakeholders with information and knowledge that was gained at this conference."

The mass meeting on February 3 will provide valuable feedback on The World Congress of Autism in 2006. This would include distributing copies of papers presented for the parent's reading benefit.

Paediatric Neurologist, Dr. Laurence Mubaiwa will also give a presentation on the usage of medication to treat severe behavioural problems manifested by children with Autism. Many autistic children, for example, are taking psychoactive drugs such as Ritalin and Risperdal which help to moderate the disruptive behaviours. There are case studies of parents not understanding issues such as correct dosage and times to administer the drug and Dr Mubaiwa will address this issue.

An adult with Aspergers Syndrome - will give a presentation on how she perceives the world. It is hoped this will provide greater understanding and insight to both parents and professionals and will underpin the way in which professionals and educators serve and support the needs of children and people with autism.

Finally the book Children on the Bridge by Kirsten Miller will be launched at this meeting. This book is a dramatic and very personal account of the author's journey through the world of autism.

The meeting will take place at St. Anthony's Hall, Centenary Road in Durban on February 3 from 10h00 to 13h00. A R25 donation towards the cost of the meeting would be appreciated, from those attending. Caregivers and a jumping castle will be available for children. Refreshments will also be provided.

For more information contact Nandi Dube on duben@dwaf.gov.za or 082 806 5342.




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