BIS #6795 Autism and Neurodivergence Screening Camp by Prafulta

By Dr Payal Ubale for BISMumbai

Prafulta: Centre for Psychological Wellness, organized a free screening camp for Autism and other Neurodivergent issues on 18 September 2022, at St Dominic Savio School, Andheri.

This camp is part of the Prafulta Silver Jubilee venture following up on the Psychological Conference held at Don Bosco International School, Matunga, on 4 September on the theme: ‘It takes a Village’. For the last 25 years, Prafulta has been reaching out in diverse ways to children, youth and adults having various emotional and psychological difficulties. It has a large team of committed professionals comprising psychiatrists, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, career guidance counselors, special educators and occupational therapists that reach out to people in distress.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is globally a major cause of childhood disability. It is estimated that in India approximately 1.7–2 million children are affected with this disorder. Early diagnosis is an important criterion to start early interventions for ASD treatment. However, for every childhood problem that receives a medical diagnosis, there is a period between a parents’ first recognition of unusual symptoms and the eventual diagnosis. Lack of awareness, unavailability of services, and stress contributes to the delay in ASD diagnosis that prevents the child from getting the required treatment. It is from this point of view that Prafulta organized this Screening Camp to create a greater awareness of Autism. Prafulta has also started a ‘Learning Centre’ where children will receive treatment and help from professionals.

At the Autism/Neurodivergence Screening Camp, 34 clients (both children and adults) came and discussed their issues with a team of 19 professionals that comprised psychiatrists, occupational therapists, psychologists, special educators and vocational guidance counselors. The main issues concerning clients ranged from affected communication skills and poor emotional processing to writing concerns experienced by children in school. There were also adults who were already diagnosed with ASD and wanted to discuss career options available for them. Some clients experiencing neurodivergent issues wanted detailed clinical testing to procure admission in foreign universities.

There were also clients who attended this Camp to get a second opinion, and also to understand the ‘home program’ for their children from the Prafulta Team of occupational therapists. Many children attending mainstream schools also received guidance by the Prafulta team of special educators.

The parents were delighted to receive help from the various professionals. Many of them expressed their gratitude and said that they now had better clarity on how to go ahead supporting their children with the different difficulties they faced. Dr Prajakta Patkar, one of the psychiatrists at the Camp said: How wonderful it would have been if we could reach out to many more children. Every child deserves the help and intervention he/she needs.