ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 11 , 2007
Vol. 41 - No 41

Helping children with Autism

A Conference and Workshop on Autism for parents, teachers and professionals will be held from March 26 to 29 at Hotel Janaki, 43, Fife Road, Colombo 5.

The conference titled 'Adding value to the lives of our children with autism' is organized by Samantha and Sanjeeva Fernando and Focus Ability, in association with the University Child Development Clinic, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo and the Sri Lanka Autistic and Aspergers Association.

The aim of the conference is to increase awareness on treatment, assessment, improving play and learning skills and to broaden the outlook in terms of recent research and available measures to be taken thereby helping autistic individuals reach their maximum potential.

On March 26, 27 and 28, the session will be from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. and on March 29 from 1.30-4.30 p.m. For registration, please call Malathi on 0776000467 or Ianthe on 0777585346 or email:

The resource persons conducting this conference are Dr. Joanne Gerenser, a speech and language pathologist. who is Executive Director of an autistic school in New York and Alison Moors, an educational psychologist and behaviour analyst.

Following are some of the topics that will be covered at the conference - Building fluent foundation skills; Teaching attending skills; Joint assessment and treatment; Managing challenging behaviours; Effective use of reinforcement; Promoting language/independence; Promoting social skills etc.

Autism is on the increase worldwide including in Sri Lanka with more boys affected than girls. Many countries have started aggressive awareness and education programmes for parents and professionals on how to deal with and what to do to help these individuals reach their maximum potential.

What is Autism?

Autism is a neuro- biological disorder -a developmental disability that is unfortunately often confused with mental illness. It causes delays in skills that should emerge from infancy to adulthood.

Autistic individuals have impairments in three broad areas; social relationships, social communication and imaginative thought. These characteristics can be present in a wide variety of combinations with no two people the same, each having different levels of skills, deficits and aptitudes that can range from low to high functioning. Hence, it is known as ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).

Autism spectrum disorders can occur by themselves or with other disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities (LD), anxiety disorders, deafness, epilepsy etc. Some may also exhibit challenging behaviours such as self injurious behavior, aggression, self stimulation, refusal to follow instructions and also have sensory impairments such as sensitivities to touch, sight, smell or sounds. Hence, the impact on the families dealing with autism is immeasurable.


Today, autism can be diagnosed and treatment started in the first 3 years of life. There are several methods of Intervention for autism some of which are ABA, TEACH, DIR/FLOORTIME and the SCERTS model. These methods of therapy, especially when used in the early intervention of young children diagnosed with autism, have helped many to advance their skills, reach their maximum potential and in some cases even to be mainstreamed as typical (normal) children.

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.