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Parents asked to seek autism therapy for affected children

Approximately six percent of children with different disabilities in the country are suffering from autism according to a recent health survey.

Speaking during celebrations to mark world occupational therapy day at Murang’a Level five hospital, in Murang’a, Chief occupational therapist of Kenyatta National Hospital Celestine Omondi said that though the actual cause of autism is not known, occupational therapy helps in managing the conditions enabling children to live independent normal lives.

“Occupational therapists work with young children who have special needs or need help in acquiring certain skills,” said Omondi, adding that they also provide treatment to the injured or disabled adult patients.

World occupational therapy day, marked on October 27 every year increases awareness of occupational therapists and their impact and also promotes the mission and goal of occupation therapy.

“The primary goal of occupational therapy is to help patients improve their fine motor skills to enable then live independently,” she said adding that some of the skills might include dressing, brushing teeth or writing.

Omondi noted that the high percentage of cases of children suffering from autism is worrying to the medics and mothers should seek early intervention so that the children are able to outgrow the condition and become independent.

“Autism cases have overtaken the cerebral palsy cases which was common in the 80’s and 90’s,” averred Omondi.

According to Omondi, autism condition might not be noticed immediately after birth and mothers should always be on the lookout for any early indicators that the child is suffering from autism and seek medical attention immediately.

“Some of the autistic children reach the recommended milestones very well even faster than the normal children but at some point you will notice some physical defects and uncommon behavioral manners like not wanting to socialize with other people, they become totally defensive and don’t keep eye contact,” she noted.

However, occupational therapy services are only found at level four and five hospitals and not all mothers are able to access the facilities.

“This is one of the major challenges that we have as a county” she said adding that other challenges include lack of qualified staff, lack of equipment’s to name but a few.

Murang’a first lady, Wambui Kang’ata, who graced the occasion pledged to have a special programme for mothers with autistic children and cerebral palsy to ensure they get access to occupational therapy.

“With the right therapy, these children are able to go to schools and in most cases they are able to live a normal life and they perform well in school” she said

Wambui however said there is need for more awareness about the conditions like autism and cerebral palsy and the need to seek medical intervention especially to the mothers in rural parts of the county.

“We are going to walk through this journey together so that we can have our children lead normal lives because that’s the joy of every mother” she said.

By Anita Omwenga

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