Health

GT Bank organizes workshop on Autism

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Parents and teachers are urged to pay more attention to children’s behavioural patterns to help identify autism spectrum disorders early enough for the needed interventions to address the situation.

This appeal was made by the Director — General of the Ghana Health Service ( GHS) Dr. Patrick Kuma — Aboagye at a autism workshop held at the University of Professional Studies Accra, organised by the Guaranty Trust Bank ( GTBank) yesterday in the national capital.

He said late detection of autism conditions in children made it difficult for appropriate interventions to be given for the children to function optimally.

The workshop is part of the “Empowering Voices for Autism” Initiative by the GTBank meant to create awareness on the disorder and empower stakeholders, especially parents and caregivers of children living with autism.

The five — day workshop will see a team of medical specialists to conduct one – on – one consultation sessions from Tuesday the 1st –Saturday 5th August 2023 .

The medical specialists include speech needs educators, speech language pathologists, certified behaviour analysts, inclusion specialists, autism support specialists, occupational therapists and psychiatrists .

The specialists, drawn from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria and Ghana, will train caregivers, including parents and guardians on effective management of children living with autism spectrum disorders ( ASD).

They will also be equipped with in – depth knowledge of the assessment, support or help needed to make children living with autism functional.

ASD are neurodevelopmental conditions that impact low a person perceives and socialises with others

The disorder or disability has been established scientifically to have many casual factors, including environmental and generic factors.

Over time, the disorder has evolved to make it a global health issue.

Globally, it is estimated that one out of every 100 children had autism.

Africa has an increasing prevalence of the autism burden.

In Ghana, almost four out of every 1, 000 children have autism.

The Director — General of Ghana Health Service said the increasing prevalence of the disorder across the continent also brought to the fore questions of assessment and care for sufferers.

He said it was in that regard that the Ghana Health Service ( GHS) had sought to implement a wide range of interventions to optimise the development, health, well – being and quality of life of persons with neurodevelopmental, disorders, especially children.

 

The Director — General of the Ghana Health Service said he found it heartwarming that GTBank had decided to help tackle the health condition as part of its corporate social responsibility ( CSR).

He said the autism workshop and consultations by the bank would promote inclusiveness and self — advocacy persons on the autism spectrum.

This initiative, which ties in closely with our health promotion drive, will no doubt serve as a reference point for autism advocacy and intervention in Africa, providing complementary support and empowerment to thousands of people with neurodevelopmental disorders through education, advocacy and consultations,” he said.

He assured GTBank that the Ghana Health Service would offer the needed support, collaboration and avail its expertise and manpower whenever needed.

The Managing Director of GTBank, Thomas Attah John, said apart from building the capacity of the caregivers on managing autism, the workshop would also help to create awareness of the condition and deal with stigmatisation by members of the public.

“We want members of the public to know that autism is not about stigmatisation.

It is not something people should worry about because you cannot get the condition from contacting someone who has that disorder.

It is just a medical condition that can be treated for someone to live a normal life, if detected early”, he said.

Mr. John said the decision by the bank to invest in autism awareness creation was because the issue had been relegated to the background.

” The focus society gives to autism can be improved and that is why we at GTBank took it upon ourselves to help out.

People must know that autism is not a death sentence and people living with it can function normally,” he said.

The Managing Director said that having done a similar thing in Nigeria for over 13 years, the expectation was to take the awareness creation in Ghana to another level.

He said, late detection of autism conditions among children make it difficult for appropriate interventions to be given for children to function optimally.

Story by Bugbila Moadow

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