Parents can either be biological or non-biological. Biological parents have genetic link with the child. Non-biological parents, on the other hand, may be adoptive parents or the primary caretaker of the child such as grandparents or relatives.
Parents nurture and raise the child to adulthood. A parent can be a mother or father. The primary aim of any parent is to develop an independent, responsible and well-adjusted individual.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neuro-biological disorder. ASD is characterised, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviours.
Early detection, parent empowerment and early intervention are essential to bring out the best in children with autism and to minimise the impact of the disorder on the family concerned.
The long haul of the child with autism is with their parents. Thus empowering their parents is a very important component in the management of a child with autism.
Dr Shan Paediatric and Child health clinic working with PEP Programme, United States, conducted the Parents Empowering Parents (AUTISM) in Ipoh. It was held at Cititel Express Hotel on June 3 and 4. There were seven participants. “We kept the numbers small to ensure it was an interactive session and the participants had maximum gain,” said Dr Shan.
The International training team consisted of Dr Richa Mohan, Psychologist from India, Ed Kuebler, Senior Social Worker from Houston, Texas, Rueben Aguirre and Regina Aguirre who are parents and certified international parent trainers.
Dr Shan Narayanan, Consultant Paediatrician Fatimah Hospital, Ipoh, is the local coordinator of the programme. He conducted a session on Basic Aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Following this the international team took over and had some excellent interactive sessions. Participants learned about child development, behaviour management, parenting skills and styles – how thoughts and feelings affect one’s parenting style in dealing with emotion and communication.
Participants became aware of their strengths and weaknesses as a parent. They felt more at ease with themselves and realised they were not alone. They will attend two further sessions in due course before being certified as trainers.