The Department of Applied Psychology and Department of Speech and Language Pathology at NUR International University jointly organized “Autism Awareness Seminar” on Friday 11th may, 2018. The purpose of the seminar was to create awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and to provide knowledge regarding management of Autism.
The key note speakers included Dr. Nazish Imran, who is currently working as the Head & Associate Professor in the Department of Child & Family Psychiatry Department in King Edward Medical University/Mayo Hospital, Lahore. Dr Nazish obtained her membership of Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2005 & Fellowship in 2016. She did her postgraduate training in Charing Cross and St Mary’s Psychiatric Training schemes in UK. She played pivotal role in establishing first dedicated child psychiatry inpatient unit in Pakistan at KEMU in 2012. She has to her credit more than 30 international and national publications. The other keynote speaker was Ms Atiya-ur-Rehman, who is the Head of Speech and Language Pathology Department at University of Lahore and has 18 years of experience in managing children with special needs.
The seminar was attended by faculty members and students of various public and private sector universities as well as by psychologists and speech and language pathologists from Children Hospital, King Edward Medical University/Mayo Hospital, University of Lahore, Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) and Amin Maktab.
The seminar started with the recitation from the Holy Quran after which the Vice Chancellor of NIU, Dr Rakhshanda Rehman talked about the need to create awareness regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder. She stressed the importance of early intervention in the treatment of Autism and that both Psychologist and Speech and Language Pathologist play an important role in the management and treatment of Autism.
Ms Hiba Khalid (students of SLP Semester 2, NIU) gave a detailed presentation about Autism, in which she focused on its signs and symptoms and treatment procedure. She also elaborated some of the calming strategies used with children having ASD with the help of a video.
Dr. Nazish Imran, elaborated the symptoms and clinical presentation of Autism with the help of various videos. The videos enabled the audience in understanding the nature of repetitive behaviors as well as communication impairments in children with autism. She mentioned the assessment criteria and diagnostic process of autism and stressed upon parent participation in therapy process and multidisciplinary team approach for the management of autism spectrum disorders.
Dr Nazish also talked about caregiver stress faced by parents of children with autism and ways of managing it. She further mentioned that a recently a new term has emerged with reference to Autism which is called “Virtual Autism”. Virtual Autism may occur as a result of exposure to TV, smart phones, tablets and other such devices before the age of 2. She suggested that children under the age of two should not be exposed to such devices, as it interferes with their development.
Ms Attiya-ur-Rehman also elaborated the role of team work in rehabilitation of autism. She explained that speech and language pathologist, psychologist and occupational therapist need to work together in order to bring about a change in a child having Autism. Ms Attiya stressed that there is a dire need to create awareness regarding Autism and to educate people that the disorder is not untreatable and early intervention is the key to improvement.
Dr Imran Ijaz Haider (Head, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, FMH and Head, and Department of Applied Psychology, NIU) in his concluding remarks stressed the importance of appropriate training and education for treating and managing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi (Educationist and Chairman, Board of Governors, NIU) concluded the seminar by appreciating the hard-work required to work with children with special needs. He appreciated the efforts of Applied Psychology and Speech and Language Pathology Department in organizing a seminar for creating awareness regarding Autism.
Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi also presented shields to the speakers and organizers of the event as a token of appreciation.
The students of Department of Applied Psychology and Speech and Language Pathology also presented a skit which focused on developing understanding of Autism and showing empathy towards children with Autism and their parents. The skit was greatly appreciated by the audience.
In the end, Dr Ayesha Sarfaraz (Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Psychology NIU) thanked all the presenters for their valuable contribution and the audience for attending the seminar after which refreshments were served.