Arthur’s Dream Autism Trust (ADAT)
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Jane Wambui gives us insights on available interventions for children with autism in Kenya based on her experience as an Autism Mom.
“Most of the options available in the country are therapy based. Available interventions include: occupational therapy, speech therapy and behavioral therapy. There are also other therapies that involve using medication. However most of these medications are used on mentally retarded patients which is not advisable to use on children diagnosed with autism.
The country has only 2 certified behavioral therapists in Kenya
When it comes to speech therapists who are able to work with children with Autism Kenya has 7 fully qualified speech therapists.
Occupational therapists are many because they graduate out of Kenya Medical Training Colleges (KMTC). Post graduates however are not taught to handle children with autism, they are trained to handle physio therapy, occupational therapy and post-surgery occupational therapy. Most of these therapists are not equipped to handle issues such as attention spans which many of the children with autism experience.
The kind of therapy that I have used on my children is twofold, we had occupational therapy. I use occupational therapy to help my daughters to develop their muscle tone. The second therapy that we have used is a speech therapist. We have not used behavioural therapist simply because it is too expensive. At the moment I pay Ksh. 2,500 on speech therapy to a private practitioner. I have two children who need 4 hours each. This cost comes to about Ksh. 20,000 a week which is very expensive.
When it comes to physio therapy, the therapy is individualized. The cost is between Ksh. 2,000 to Ksh. 3,000. My children need an hour each day for 7 days. Ksh.15, 000 a week is also too expensive for me. I therefore had to self-train myself using You Tube and my friends for speech therapy and then I go to public institutions such; Kenyatta National Hospital and Mathari Hospital where I attend the monthly occupational monthly group sessions. My kids are evaluated and we plan ourselves through that. I find myself doing all the work.
If I am to use KNH for occupational therapy it means I have to attend the sessions every Tuesday, no employer is going to give me every Tuesday off. I have two children on different age groups on different therapies. This means they will be in different clinics, meaning sessions will be on different days or on different timings. This makes it a full time job. I have to put food on the table and I still have to pay for their schooling and their shadow teacher.
With Autistic kids you have dietary misnomers. A parent has to buy all the supplements to rectify the inaccuracies. The supplements are expensive too. By the time you find out what your child is able to handle a parent goes through a lot of trial and error and research to find what the right diet and therapy that suits them.