Tanzania Govt to Search for Autistic Children Hidden By Parents

Maternal and child mortality in Ethiopia has been dwindlingThe government will soon start searching for autistic children, who have been hidden by their parents or caretakers, it was announced at the weekend.

Siha district commissioner Charles Mlingwa said this while marking World Autism Awareness Day. He said the government would not tolerate the practice, he described as a violation of the rights of disabled children.

“I am appealing to you all to bring out the children suffering from autism so that they may be assisted,” he said. The event was held at the district headquarters and organised by a charitable organisation, Connect Autism Tanzania (CAT) and other stakeholders.

He explained that children suffering from autism needed to be assisted and not to be stigmatised and isolated from other children. He added that they should be taken to school like any other children and be supported to acquire knowledge and special social skills.

Dr Mlingwa said already 90 children suffering from autism had been identified in Siha District and three centres had been established to care for them, noting that autistic children could be taught various social skills.

A Lutheran Church leader, Mr Elisa Kileo, said the government had started a special programme to teach autistic children. While the disorder is highly heritable, researchers suspect both environmental and genetic factors can be causes. In rare cases it is associated with birth defects.

CAT director Kerri Elliot said several programmes were underway to assist autistic children in Kilimanjaro Region.

“The programmes include imparting to them special education and skills,” he said, noting that of late parents had shown cooperation in supporting such disabled children unlike in the past when they regarded the ailment as a curse.

United Nations statistics have it that one in every 68 children could have symptoms associated with the disorder.

Globally, autism is estimated to affect 21.7 million people as of 2013. About 1.5 per cent of children in the United States were diagnosed with autism disorder as of 2014.

The UN emphasises theneed for mainstreaming disability through an integrated approach, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social milieus to check inequality.

Autism is a brain disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and verbal communication. Symptoms of the impairment normally become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three.

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