More than 20 specialised health care providers converged on Accra on Sunday to provide free consultation service to persons living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
ASD is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socialises with others.
The medical team comprised psychiatrists, neuro pediatricians, dentists, occupational therapists, behaviour analysts and psychiatrists.
Organised by the Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, (GTCO), the parent company of GT Bank, the event sought to provide a safe space for affected persons and intensify awareness against the stigmatisation of persons living with autism.
The five-day consultancy on the “Creating a community of Awe-Tism advocates” was part of the company’s social responsibility initiatives.
The Divisional Head, Corporate Communication and Experience at GTCO, Agnes Owusu-Afram, said that autism was a subject which was less discussed hence the company’s decision to champion its awareness through its Orange Ribbon initiative which had been ongoing for 12 years.
She revealed that the programme would provide opportunity to demystify the misconceptions surrounding ASD and offer guardians the best available consultation.
Speaking on the GTCO goal to positively impact society, she stated that the firm was committed to tackling the barriers affecting marginalised people, especially persons living with autism daily.
Renowned musician and Occupational therapist, John Paul Horsely, described the constant association of autism to spirituality as wrong, and needed to be checked.
“The stigma around autism in Africa is a spiritual thing. When children are born and are unable to communicate correctly or walk properly people attribute it to Juju but rather it’s a brain disorder,” he explained.
He stated that some persons with ASD, if given proper care, would be able to grow out of it and respond more sociable
He urged parents not to shy away from seeking proper healthcare for their kids saying that an early intervention could improve their condition positively.
Behavioral analyst, Lanre Duyile, urged parents to monitor their children closely to detect the symptoms early as it could not be detected through blood tests.
“It’s a disorder that could be diagnosed through behavioral presentations so if a parent has a child who is not talking, repetitive behaviours like lining up toys or uses one word to make requests is a red flag,” he explained.
Parents who detect these symptoms, he said should seek immediate medical attention for their kids as it might not entirely be autism, but other forms of disorders.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS