Mbabane: The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the Kingdom is facing unprecedented challenges amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Director and founder of ASD Eswatini, Tryphina Mvubu said people living with autism are claustrophobic and once locked in one place, they act out and become unmanageable. This can become stressful for both the patient and the caregiver.
However,Mvubu said they have encouraged parents and guardians of autistic people to take the patients out of the house and walk them around the yard, which is the least they can do in observance of government’s COVID-19 regulations. Mvubu went on to say they have partnered with government in constraining the spread of the virus with minimal compromises in line with the needs of people living with autism. Most autistic patients are children and are under the care of parents or guardians.
Mvubu further told Independent News that the patients need constant visits to health care centres with therapeutic facilities which are necessary for their rehabilitation, but with the changes in movements, this has proved difficult. “Therapeutic centres in hospitals have closed down to limit the movement of people to and from,” she said, adding that this has impacted negatively on autistic people who depend heavily on therapeutic services mainly offered between the Manzini-Mbabane corridor.
Mvubu went on to point to the fact that they are also facing food and medicine challenges and as an organization, they are appealing to government and the business community to give a donation. She said she was aware of government’s move to distribute food parcels to over 300 000 people, mostly the vulnerable, across the four regions of the country and rests her hopes that the autism community is one of those.
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Recently, the government through the Department of Gender and family Issues and the Department of Social Welfare under the Deputy Prime Ministers office in partnership with UNFPA Eswatini and Autism Eswatini as part of the 6th country programme implementation and with joint support from UNDP and UNICEF conducted a baseline survey on persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in Eswatini.
The early diagnosis, appropriate research and effective interventions are vital to the growth and development of people with ASD. Early intervention is crucial for addressing their needs, thus improving their opportunities to live a quality life with the ability to participate in the greater community and increasing the likelihood that they will need lower levels of support later in life. A cure for ASDs is not available. Evidence-Based psychosocial interventions, however, such as behavioural treatment and skills training programmes for parents and other caregivers, can reduce difficulties in communication and social behaviour, with a positive impact on the person’s well-being and quality of life.
According to WHO, available scientific evidence suggests that there are probably many factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental and genetic factors. However, epidemiological data is conclusive that there is no evidence of causal association between measles, mumps, rubella or any other children vaccine, and ASD.
People with ASDs, as well as other disabilities, are significantly more vulnerable to the risk of HIV infection. A lack of education, of awareness of their rights, and of the possibility of seeking protection (due to social stigma, isolation and lack of access to communications, information and services) makes them more susceptible to deceit, while making it easier for those who abuse them to go unpunished. Communication barriers, affecting people with developmental disabilities, make it difficult to ask for and receive help, to make themselves understood or to be even taken seriously, in addition to professionals (law-enforcement and medical staff) seldom being adequately trained to deal with such individuals
Autism Eswatini is a non- profit making organization focusing on facilitating Autism & Neuro-Developmental Disorders’ Support; Rehabilitation, Awareness, Advocacy, Research, Protection and Psycho-social Support for Individuals and their families