Dr Sudath Damsinghe
Autism is a childhood neuro developmental disorder, which involves the psychological and social development of the child. Autism can be identified by three major domains of involvement, namely, Social Communication, Social Interaction and Restricted Repetitive and Stereo-typed Interest, Behaviour and Activities.
The Social Communication domain includes poor or delayed development of speech or loss of speech which may me associated with the repetition of words referred to as 'Echolalia'. Social Interaction domain includes a child's lack of the basic social interaction capabilities which include such capabilities like joint attention, the child's level of play and poor eye contact etc.
Restricted Repetitive Stereo-typed Interest, Behaviour and Activities means that one is not diversified in ones thoughts, behaviour and activities and thereby very much centered and attached to certain things which most often becomes an object, people or certain types of rituals etc.
Daddys Lanka Autism Centre was established five years ago under the guidance of Dr. Sudath Damsinghe and Dr. Sumudu Wijayaweera providing their services as its Directors. At present over 2540 children are registered with this center, where 20% of these patients receive therapy treatments from the center. Dr. Damsinghe and Dr. Sumudu Wijayaweera are the pioneers in introducing a newer intervention programme for autism. The Daddys Lanka Autism Centre is also the first centre to have developed a website for autism in Sri Lanka (www.daddyslanka.com). The center specializes in providing individualized therapy for children with autism. The Sunday Times spoke to Dr. Damsinghe, to find out more about the center has to offer children suffering from autism.
"Autism is mostly developed after a child's first birthday, which is the age in which a child's development is in progress. The proportion of autism in males and females is 4:1.
Tests are also conducted to rule out any other inborn abnormalities a child may have in addition to autism which include chromosome studies, metabolic screening for inborn errors, hormone profile, brain scan, brainstem evoke response for hearing and EEG. To date no proper cause or permanent drug treatment has been found for autism, which unfortunately is a lifelong disability, which however can be controlled through proper therapy treatments.
Daddys Lanka has developed the proper software for autism assessment, where video recordings are done in order to effectively assess the child after which a special intervention programme is developed taking into consideration the child's condition, social economical status of the child's parents and many other technical problems that may be faced. The delivery of this programme varies, out of which the most effective method of delivery is through the centre's session programmes, where professional therapists carry out the required therapies according to the targets given.
Our advice however to parents is that whatever method of therapy they follow the child should be given a minimum of 20 hours of therapy per week", says Dr. Damsinghe.
The outcome of autism is based on the factors such as the age at which an autistic child is diagnosed and starts intervention in addition to the level of autism and quality of therapy provided.
The center aims at providing patients at least 2 hours "probing therapy" per week in addition to maintaining a proper monitoring and evaluation mechanism. The center has also developed a monthly programme for children who are not in a position to come in for weekly treatments.
Daddys Lanka also has established a separate Autism Group Therapy Unit which includes 5 main areas of intervention, including activity based intervention, concept development, sensory stimulation, auditory integration therapy and occupational therapy. These therapies are provided by the center according to the needs and requirements of the child.
"Through our center we have developed a proper plan for the child to achieve maximum results. However the outcome of the child will also greatly depend on the autism level of the child and the age at which intervention started. Another very important factor that one must take into consideration is parental training. We are the first centre to introduce the autism parental training programme, which includes weekly programmes as well as weekend programmes and a special lecture programme for parents to gain a better knowledge on how to care and attend to the needs of an autistic child. In addition to this, our center is also involved in the government's national programme of autism.
With regards to the treatment of an autistic child I firmly believe that it is the parent who has ability to give the proper therapies to the child which should be done under the proper guidance of a therapist and it is also the duty of the society to help and assist children with autism to claim their rights to live normal and happy lives", said Dr. Damsinghe.
You can contact Dr. Sudath Damsinghe on 071 681 25 24
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org