Government urged to introduce special education for children with autism

  • Since each child with autism is unique, treatment is based on the specific needs of a child

Kathmandu, August 24

Parents of children suffering from autism spectrum disorders urged the government to introduce special education for children suffering from autism.

Shekhar Dhakal, whose daughter is suffering from autism, said hundreds of children with autism were deprived of education as the government failed to introduce special education programmes for such children.

Dhakal informed that he wanted to send his five-year-old daughter to school but neither the private schools nor public schools agreed to enrol her. “Firstly, I requested Jana Jagriti School Banasthali two months ago and then Geeta Mata Higher Secondary School, Swoyambhu, nine months ago for enrolment but they refused to enrol her.”

“Principals of schools said that no law can force the schools to enrol children with autism or any form of mental or physical disability,” shared Dhakal.

Due to lack of special education centres, autism care schools and autism health care centres, many children with autism are deprived of education, proper care and treatment.  Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.

This kind of disorder is characterised by the impairment or delay in functions related to central nervous system maturation. This may affect a single area of development (speech or language disorder, disorder of scholastic skills) or several (behavioral and intellectual). Sleep dysfunction, seizures and gastrointestinal distress are additional conditions that may be associated with autism.

According to Dr Sunita Maleku Amatya, chairperson of Autism Care Nepal Society, it is estimated that there are around three hundred thousand people with autism in Nepal. Though the causes of autism are still unknown, 10 per cent of autism are genetic. Since each child with autism is unique, the treatment is also based on the specific needs of a child. Treatment can involve behavioral interventions or medicine, or both.

Speaking at an interaction here today, Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya said KMC was planning to provide identity cards to children with such disorders. “KMC will provide scholarship to such children for their studies in normal schools,” he said, adding that if it was necessary, we could allocate budget within a week for the education of children with autism.

“We are planning to establish special centres in each ward so that children with disability and disorders could get education and proper healthcare,” said Shakya.