Saturday Features

Parenting autism

Dec 15, 2018-

Raising an autistic child is daunting anywhere in the world, but more so in Nepal. Parents make countless sacrifices and some even leave their careers to prepare their children for challenging lives ahead.

Even though an estimated 300,000 children in Nepal suffer from autism, there is a lack of formal schools and institutions to support their needs. Three years ago, a small group of parents with autistic children decided to band together to start a homeschool, called Friends of Parents of Children with Autism, for their autistic children.

“The children are the ones who actually show us how (to learn and communicate),” shared Jyoti, a parent. “We are their parents, but our children are our teachers.”

According to Autism Speaks, an advocacy organisation in the US, autism spectrum disorder refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviour, speech and nonverbal communication. There are different types of autism and a combination of genetic and environmental factors influence the development of the condition. According to Autism Care Nepal Society, the only consistently effective treatment for autism is a structured training programme.

Even though autistic children suffer from a range of conditions, sometimes they also show unique, surprising talents. However, recognising each child’s uniqueness calls for broader health and education policies. Special schools and training programmes for parents and teachers are imperative to help integrate and support children with developmental disorders into mainstream social structures. Children with autism have different learning styles and demand equally different teaching styles. However, with the lack of awareness and clear government policy, autism is hardly recognised by primary schools, which see the highest dropout rates in Nepal.

The photographs show kids with autism, the little joys they share, and how they are being taken care of.

PHOTOS & TEXT: Fauzi Djauhari

This work was produced as a part of the Kathmandu INSIDE: OUT 2018 Photography Masterclass.

Published: 15-12-2018 09:50

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