Autism is the talk of the town

2017-06-22 06:00
Andreas Banetsi Mphunga, registerd counsellor, Yandisa Kaulela-Mahlasela, township facilitator for Nosh for Josh Foundation and Gabriela Rishka Wiener, board member of Nosh for Josh, during the awarness event for Autism, on Monday, in Khayelitsha. PHOTO: Mbongiseni mASEKO

Andreas Banetsi Mphunga, registerd counsellor, Yandisa Kaulela-Mahlasela, township facilitator for Nosh for Josh Foundation and Gabriela Rishka Wiener, board member of Nosh for Josh, during the awarness event for Autism, on Monday, in Khayelitsha. PHOTO: Mbongiseni mASEKO

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Parents of children who are affected by Autism and those who know children who suffer from it were left impressed after getting information about the disorder in Khayelitsha.

The first ever event which was planned to draw attention and make awareness around Autism in townships was organised by Nosh for Josh Foundation in partnership with Neurogen Brian, Spine Institute, which is based in India and Carbonado Energy Autism Centre, at Way of Life Church, in Makhaya.

Sunkiree Veerasamy, Autism Therapist at Carbonado Energy Autism Centre, described Autism as a neurology disorder in the brain which affects social communication and learning.

She said one in 88 children suffers from the disorder and that one child who has Autism is born every 20 minutes in the world.

Veerasamy, who is also the principal at the centre and been teaching about Autism for over 30 years, said most parents and residents are unaware of the disorder.

“Some parents suspect witchcraft if their children behave the way they do not understand, because they are not aware of symptoms of Autism. We need to make awareness about it.

The earlier the intervention the better chances for the child to get help. If your child acts differently that does not mean that the child is naughty, but there is something that is happening in his or her mind. It is a disorder not a disease. If we can understand the child we can teach the child,” Veerasamy said.

She said the causes for it are not known yet and that it can be detected when a child is about 18 months old.

Veerasamy said parents should notice some of the symptoms for Autism if their children like playing alone, avoid eye contacts, when they are non-verbal, and when the child becomes aggressive when playing with other children.

She also said parents and families can be taught how to treat the children who have Autism such as communicating with them with picture format and visual schedule of things that they have to do and that must be on daily routine.

Gabriela Rishka Wiener, board member of Nosh for Josh and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Afrosaptein Entertainment, said they are planning to open a branch in Khayelitsha where they will teach about the disorder.

She said they are also planning to start a first ever centre in the country where operations for Autism will be performed.

“We need a centre where brain stem cell therapy would be performed locally. Children have to travel to India, because currently it is not legalised to do it in the country.

That cost R150 excluding travel tickets. We are want to open the centre so that doctors would fly into the country and perform it in future.

We want to create awareness about Autism so that children who suffer from it can be heard. We need to change mindset for people around it. People are not aware of Autism at all. We also want to train caregivers so that they will be able to assist,” Wiener said.

The event was also attended by Sandy Pakeur-Sandy, co-founder of Nosh for Josh and mother of Joshua Sandy, 10, who was born with Autism, and Russell Fox, brand ambassador.

Parker-Sandy said parents of children who suffer from Autism should seek support and information on how to raise the children.

“It was not easy for me. I did not give up hope for my child. We as parents who have children who suffer from Autism need support. We are here now to give you hope,” she said.

She also said the past nine years have been difficult for her and that Joshua has since undergone the therapy in India, in April this year.

Fox was born with six many medical and psychological challenges such as Epilepsy, ADHA, Tourettes, Hypertension and the social stigma surrounding mental condition.

He said he could not read nor write and doctors said he would not lead a normal life.

“My mother never gave-up on me. My mother was told by different schools to take me home and take care of me for the rest of my life because I would not fit in the normal society.

But now I own three businesses and I travel the world. I can drive a car and do anything that one can do.

That is because my mother did not give-up on me. Children who have Autism can live a normal life, you just need to be their voice,” Fox said.

Fox, who is also a magician and run MagicianInsane, is set to be registered in the Guinness Book of Records whereby he will do the glass walker challenge, in a date yet to be announced in November, at V&A Waterfront.

He is set to walk 32 metres on the broken bottles breaking the 28 metre record.

A Khayelitsha mother, 57, who asked to remain anonymous, said she first heard of Autism about three years ago on radio.

“I did not know that my child was suffering from Autism all these years. I only knew that he had a problem, because he was not like any other children, but I was clueless about its cause.

Doctors also did not know what was wrong with him. He is forgetful and behaves strange. Sometimes we would be too harsh on him because we did not know why he behaved abnormal. It takes time to process what you are telling him. The information that we got here is so important and we need more,” she said.

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