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All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Nagpur

Pediatric Department Organizes Autism Awareness Programme on World Autism Awareness Day


In commemoration of World Autism Awareness Day, School Management of Autism and Referral for Therapy (SMART) initiative was organised by the Pediatric Department aimed at shedding light on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The event, held on 2nd April 2024, brought together medical professionals, educators, and concerned individuals to highlight the significance of early intervention and community involvement in supporting children with autism.

Saumya Sharma IAS, CEO, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur, esteemed Chief Guest and advocate for autism awareness, delivered a compelling address emphasizing the pivotal role of educators and Anganwadi workers in the early identification of children with autism. She stressed that early intervention holds the key to improving outcomes for individuals with autism, and urged for collaborative efforts among various stakeholders to ensure timely support and assistance.

During her speech, Saumya Sharma underscored the importance of raising awareness about autism within educational institutions and community settings, fostering a more inclusive environment where individuals with autism can thrive. She reiterated that with proper understanding and support, individuals with autism can lead fulfilling lives and make significant contributions to society.

Dr. Prashant Joshi, Executive Director AIIMS NAGPUR, commended the collective efforts of the entire pediatric team in organizing this impactful event. He underscored the critical importance of early identification of autism, emphasizing that timely intervention can greatly enhance the quality of life for individuals with autism. Dr. Prashant Joshi urged society to view autism not as a handicap, but rather as a unique aspect of diversity, stressing that it is the responsibility of the community to support individuals with autism and facilitate their integration into mainstream society. In a gesture of gratitude, Dr. Urmila Dahake, Incharge of Autism clinic of the department, expressed heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Prashant Joshi and Saumya Sharma for their unwavering support and encouragement in conducting this vital programme. She reiterated the department's commitment to promoting autism awareness and announced plans to develop a tailored training module for teachers and Anganwadi workers. This initiative aims to equip educators and frontline workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively support children with autism in educational and community settings.

The programme featured informative sessions by experts in the field, interactive workshops, and discussions aimed at equipping attendees with practical knowledge and strategies for supporting individuals with autism. Participants also had the opportunity to engage in dialogue, share experiences, and network with peers, fostering a sense of solidarity and commitment to promoting autism awareness and acceptance.

Dr Mrunal Phatak, Dean Academics, Dr Manish Shrigiriwar, Medical Superintendent and Deputy Director, Mr Vijay Naik, ITS graced the inaugural function.

Dr Akash Bang, Additional Professor, Pediatrics, conducted the inaugural ceremony which was followed by two parallel sessions for Anganwadi workers and Primary school teachers. An overview of Autism was provided by Dr Meenakshi Girish, Professor & Head, Pediatrics, Dr Shikha Jain, Pediatric Neurologist and Dr Rupali Moharkar elaborated on how to identify and screen for Autism, how to refer children to AIIMS for further evaluation. Dr Urmila Dahake, Additional Professor, was the key person who organized the event and delivered a powerful lecture on how to manage children with Autism in the classroom, Dr Abhijit Choudhary and Dr Abhishek Madhura, Associate Professors, coordinated the parallel sessions respectively and provided the take home messages for the audience. Dr Supriya Kushwah and Dr Himali Meshram was instrumental in making the programme a grand success.