Ministry of Health Needs to take Autistic Children Under its Wing
MANY parents face numerous problems with their autistic children. The Ministry of Health has not given any serious consideration to autism as a disease requiring utmost care and concern. As a result, autistic children have been attached to the Ministry of Social Affairs, which is not the appropriate place for them.
Autism is a disorder in the brain preventing children from acquiring skills or being able to communicate with society. Signs of autism appear in children at an early age and remain with them for the rest of their lives. If rehabilitation and training are not duly provided to the autistic children, they are not able to interact with society.
This disease is on the rise without being met with measures that will protect autistic children against developing a disability that might prevent them from living a normal or semi-normal life.
How can an autistic child learn any needful skills while he or she is attached to the Ministry of Social Affairs?
In view of the lack of specialized advanced medical centers in our country, many financially able parents do not hesitate to take their autistic children to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and leave them there to receive medication and training.
The Ministry of Health should give due attention to autism and take care of autistic children instead of leaving them in the care of the Ministry of Social Affairs especially considering that autism is a disease and not a case of poverty or need.
The Health Ministry should open specialized clinics in all regions to provide care to autistic children. The ministry should follow up these cases and provide autistic children with all the necessary medical care that would enable them to develop communication skills.
The charitable organizations of the Ministry of Social Affairs will not be able to rehabilitate autistic children. All these organizations can do is to provide financial assistance which will not solve the problems autistic children face.
The fact that there are advanced medical centers in neighboring Arab countries to provide care to autistic children poses a legitimate question: What is the difference between them and us?
We may safely answer that the difference lies in two areas: Good governance and deep awareness.
I sincerely ask all the concerned officials to give utmost care to autistic children who represent an integral part of our society. This request is especially made on behalf of families who are not financially able to take their autistic children for rehabilitation abroad.
Abdu Khal - Saudi Gazette