Local educators, social, and mental health workers are now trained and better positioned to assist and manage the growing number of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder in the British Virgin Islands.
Autism is a condition that affects the brain’s development. In some cases, persons affected by the disorder will be challenged in their social interactions with others, as well as in their verbal and non-verbal behaviour.
Educators and the other select professionals were trained to support and interact with children living with the disorder via an autism skills training workshop that was implemented through the Ministry of Health.
With a focus on children’s general love for electronics and gadgets, participants were taught how to use a software known as the Secret Agent Society (SAS) as a tool to combat issues such as social awkwardness in autistic children.
SAS was created for children ages eight to 12 and is equipped with captivating resources and games.
With the use of the software, children are able to recognize and utilize their emotions, detect other people’s emotions and improve their overall interpersonal skills.
Pay attention to your children
Software developer Dr Renae Beaumont said it is critical that parents pay close attention to their offsprings for early signs of autism.
“Parents should speak to their primary care provider or the schools to allow for proper testing to find out if there is a challenge because the key to the best outcomes for persons on the autism spectrum is early diagnosis and appropriately-tailored intervention,” she noted.
She also said parents should not be ‘disheartened’ if their children are suffering from autism. “There are many professionals in this area that are really passionate about creating new interventions and support to help children to reach their potential,” she said.
Part of the objectives of the skills training was to heighten local awareness of autism, and Director of Mental Health Services, Dr Virginia Rubaine has said the Ministry of Health has been on the lookout for ways to assist autism-affected children using innovative technology to interact with them.
She said in so doing, autistic children will be then equipped to be able to ‘navigate life more effectively’.
The training workshop was a collaboration between Unite BVI, the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the BVI Health Services Authority.
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