Experts: the Private Sector Can Positively Contribute in the Study and Treatment of ‘Autism’

تم نشره في Wed 23 March / Mar 2016. 12:58 AM
  • A Side of the Workshop

AMMAN — Given the current difficult economic conditions Jordanians of different classes endure; particularly those with limited income, and with the cumulating negative implications of growing unemployment and poverty on society, the real importance of Corporate Social Responsibility programmes comes in light, whether joint with the public sector or not.

Corporations must not adopt these programmes as burden, but as their duty to contribute in the economic development of society in return for what the latter have put into the development of corporate business and profits.

More so, business entities of the private sector must focus on initiatives and projects with long-term social effects on society and individuals, socially and economically.

And there is nothing better than touching on the issues of poverty and unemployment with these programmes to help turn entrepreneurial projects into productive, real ones; not to mention their important inputs in education, health, and residential sectors.

Al Ghad tries to cover some of these programmes under a different light, or to conduct reports and interviews showcasing the real concept of corporate social responsibility across the spectrum of private sector industries in Jordan.

In 10 days, on April 2nd, the world, relevant organisations, and communities worldwide will be celebrating the International Day for Autism, while the number of diagnosed cases rapidly rocketing, with insufficient information and research on its reasons and diagnostics, and widespread misconceptions about the disorder that causes weakened linguistic and social communication abilities among those who have it.

Experts stress that there is an increasing, pressing need to study autism and focus more research on the causes of it —still unknown, underlining the great part private companies could play in the implementation of social responsibility programmes addressing the “disorder” to lessen its effects and help the families of those with Autism. These include awareness programmes that aim to enlighten communities on how to deal with autistic children in order for them to integrate with society and contribute positively to its social and economic aspects.

Assistant Medical Professor at the University of Jordan, Dr Luay Zaghloul, defined the “Spectrum of Autism” as a single, or multitude of overlapping disorders that develop over the first 3 years of a child’s life, negatively affects —and to different degrees, the person’s ability to socially interact, impairing their linguistic capacities as well behavioural and interest patterns, noting the specific causes of it remain unknown, and still speculative and argumentative.

Zaghloul said that “there are no official figures or studies on this disorder in Jordan”, but stated that some estimates indicate there are approximately 8000 diagnosed autistics in the Kingdom, amounting to 1 per cent of the total population of Jordan, and 5 per cent of children.

Moreover, early and timely intervention by parents, according to Dr Zaghloul, in treating the symptoms of “Autism” contributes to the development of over 60 per cent of the child’s skills and abilities. And their awareness of how to deal with autism, and of the enormous expenses incurred by private special schooling, may help, especially with the limited and small number of available institutes that specialise in “Autism” in Jordan.

Accordingly, Christiane Vicentini, German autism specialist with The Society for Care and Rehabilitation of Creative Autistic Children in cooperation with the Baraka Charity foundation, the Amman Chamber of Commerce, and the office of the Foundation of German Industry for International Cooperation— Senior Experten Service (SES), stated that the international figures of Autism are in the rise as the numbers touch on 1 diagnosed with autism to every 88 thousand children around the world.

More so, she said, that “autism is not genetic”, calling for mothers of autistic children to organise monthly sessions to discuss the challenges they face and advice good practices that contribute in the rehabilitation of their children, noting through her comments that the male-driven nature of the Jordanian society throws these responsibilities on mothers, particularly since fathers usually deny their children’s disorders at first.

Next to the high costs of caring for and schooling autistic children, Vicentini emphasises that uncovering special abilities among children allows for their enrolment in Swiss and German schools that focus on enabling their social integration and their development into independent individuals to continue their university education, mentioning that many of them study computer sciences or maths and work later with IT companies as their skills usually fit well into these fields and environments.

Generally speaking, the German specialist highlighted the vitality of functional and integrative sensation therapy in autistic children, as these methods strengthen their nerves and enable autistics of controlling their movement and enhancing their motor skills.

Social worker and expert Dr Muna Hindiyye affirmed that “social responsibility in healthcare is paramount, to help governments with limited resources and capacities, address the issues of spreading illnesses, diseases, disorders, and epidemics, with their effects on economy and society.

As for local attempts in this field, Chairman of the The Society for Care and Rehabilitation of Creative Autistic Children Yousef Mohammad Damra, reassured on the importance of corporate and institutional efforts made to aid the Society in the implementation of its programme since its inception last year, and said that “the Society’s strategy this year is based on the increase and spread of awareness among workers and parents, through the importation of global expertise from advanced countries to unite in a single field, via conferences, courses, and workshops directed at the enablement of mothers with autistic children”.

Moreover, Damra said that the Society is working on three programmes: School and education integration programme, Children rehabilitation and drawing and computer skills development, and the mothers’ rehabilitation course programme.

Notably, an example of international private and NGO cooperation and contribution, Senior Experten Service (SES) —the Foundation of German Industry for International Cooperation, a sponsor of the Society, is a non-profit organisation, offering interested retirees the opportunity to pass on their skills and knowledge to others, both within Germany and overseas, in a voluntary capacity to help train both specialist workers and managements. SES operate and support efforts to help develop individual self-sufficiency abilities among developing societies and countries worldwide. Their affiliates and programmes are present in Cambodia, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, China, as well as Germany itself, and have been operational since 1983.