EDITORIAL: They need care

As many children in Nepal have autism, they should be detected quickly and the health workers should be taught to recognize the condition

Autism is often perceived to be a disease or an illness but this is not the case. It is a lifelong development disability and this disability affects patients as to how they see the world and how they interact with others.

This condition is seen worldwide and knows no boundaries. April 2 is marked every year as World Autism Awareness Day, and this year the day has been marked as the ninth World Autism Awareness Day. The month of April will now be celebrated as the World Autism Awareness Month.

Various awareness programmes are being held to mark the occasion, including launching fund-raising drives to collect the much needed money to help victims of autism. That in Nepal alone as many as 300,000 children are estimated to suffer from autism is something to mull over.

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) it is believed that one in every 68 children is autistic in Nepal.

The findings also show that more boys than girls have autism. Although autism is considered to be without a cure, but if treated early through therapy and counseling then it is possible to enhance the quality of life of those with autism. However, there are a few cases of those with autism recovering fully.

It is important for parents in particular to recognize the early symptoms of autism and for them to seek timely treatment. Symptoms of autism mostly appear among children aged between two to three years.

The condition also appears in children as old as 18 months and development delays can sometimes be seen and they can be identified and addressed earlier on a few occasions. The challenges for those with autism are immense, and they are usually unable to communicate and also interact properly.

They are also often feel neglected by their family, friends, school and the community as a whole. This is indeed very pathetic, and it is essential to help people with autism by raising awareness about this condition. Some parents are found to be hiding their children with autism due to the taboo attributed to it.

This has a shocking effect on their psychology and overall development. Moreover, most parents are ignorant about autism and as such do not seek medical help which could be diagnosed early like in many developed countries.

So we should be on the lookout for symptoms which include social skills, repetitive behavior, non-verbal communication. Autism is regarded as being caused by defects in the genes and there are also said to be environmental reasons for it. Mothers infected with some viruses could give birth to infants with this condition.

Air pollution is also said to be responsible for this. As many children in Nepal have autism, they should be detected as soon as possible and the health workers should be taught to recognize the condition.

The World Autism Awareness Day should be marked with as much publicity as possible that would help in raising the much needed publicity about it. Meanwhile, children with autism should not be treated with discrimination; rather efforts should be made to make them as comfortable as possible.

Under no circumstances should they be regarded as a burden for society which is unfortunately happening now, and this needs to be dealt with immediately.

Conservation move

The Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management has recently declared Fewa Lake’s watershed as a protected area to conserve its natural beauty and its contribution to tourism business in the Pokhara Valley.

The department has chosen the lake’s watershed area as its first conservation move. The department will first demarcate the watershed area of the lake and start protecting it from erosion and overexploitation by humans.

The lake’s watershed area will be the first of its kind to be declared as protected area.

Lakes and rivers occupy certain areas as watersheds from where waters are discharged into the river or lake systems. Many scientific studies conducted in the past have warned that the famous Fewa Lake will be buried in a little over a couple of hundred years if no concrete approach is taken to control sediment coming from its watershed area during the rainy season.

Human encroachment around the lake is another issue of serious concern that needs to be tackled immediately. Now the Pokhara Valley has been declared the biggest metropolitan city the elected local body must focus on its conservation.