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Monday, November 28, 2022
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Pandemic and Special Needs Children

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The world we know has changed in the past 2 years since the pandemic hit. With uncertainty and no proper treatment the health and medical sector has been struggling each day to find a definite cure. 

While taking care of the physical health of the people, mental health totally got ignored initially. With  awareness and proper training slowly and steadily people started to take care of their mental health. 

Government has also taken a lot of initiative in this regard to provide therapy to individuals during the  pandemic through different modes possible and this contributed to the awareness of mental health  among people.

Within mental health, one of the most affected were the children with  neurodevelopmental disorders.  

Neurodevelopmental disorders fall under the category of disability where majorly the brain and the  neurological system get affected. Neurodevelopmental disorders include attention-deficit/hyperactivity  disorder, autism, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, conduct disorders, cerebral palsy, etc.

The  common areas where children face difficulties if they get diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental  disorder include motor skills, language and speech, behavior, memory, cognition, social development,  self help skills and academics.

Every day many children are getting diagnosed with neuro-developmental disorders. Research says that by the age of 8 years, more than 3.3 million children get diagnosed with  neuro-developmental disorders.  

Pandemic

It has been two years since schools are closed and children are at home. The question of the hour is how  the children are coping with these situations, especially the ones with special needs. Social development  is one area which gets affected in the case of special needs children.

If they get diagnosed with Autism  or any other neurodevelopmental disorder, they are already susceptible to social withdrawal and with  the pandemic going on for such a long time, it gets difficult for children with neurodevelopmental  disorders to bridge the gap in the developmental milestones that they are facing.

With this, it has  become important to adjust to the new normal. With so much uncertainty and risk to health outside, it  has become important to provide therapy and intervention to children as well as parents at home  through the online mode.  

When a child gets diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, it is not only the child that struggles  but also the family. Parents have to go through a lot in dealing with the situation.

Emotionally it gets  difficult for them to cope and since the topic of mental health in India brings along a lot of stigma, socially also they are at times forced to go in a cocoon.

Because of this, parents go through different  emotions leading to stress, anxiety and de-motivation in life. Hence, it is very important that along with  children parents should also go for therapy and counseling.  

Research says that the need for therapy and intervention among children and adolescents is very high. But currently because of the ongoing pandemic it is getting difficult for psychologists, counselors, and  various other child specialists to provide physical therapy face to face.

In this light, it is very important to  put emphasis on online mode of therapy, so that mental health experts can help special needs children, 

adolescents and parents in dealing with their problems. With this, the responsibility of the parents  increases a lot more as they now have to take full responsibility of conducting activities at home. With  proper guidance and support from experts, home intervention is definitely possible.  

Home intervention means therapy at home. Here, sessions are conducted at home with the child,  parents and primary caregivers. Sometimes, therapists can visit the house and provide it. But due to the  pandemic, it is not possible.

In the scene of the pandemic, home intervention through the online mode  has become necessary. Children suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders need therapy at the  earliest. Delay in receiving therapy might lead to difficulties in bridging the gap that they are facing.

So, it is important that parents come forward for home intervention through online mode of therapy. Home  intervention includes different methods of therapy that therapists can use for the betterment of the  child as well as the parent.

Techniques like Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Play Therapy, Behavior  Modification, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Art Therapy, etc can be used by mental health experts.  The guidance to parents that is given during home intervention plays a major role in determining  the progress of the child. Every child has his/her own pace of learning and growth.

So, parents should  not compare their children with others. In some the progress is faster and in some it might be a little  slow. But with therapy it is definitely sure that progress will take place. In the case of parents also, through  training they can learn adequate parenting skills which is necessary to handle their children.

Sometimes  due to lack of knowledge and proper parenting skills, it gets difficult for parents to handle their child’s  behavior which in turn can bring behavior issues like non-compliance, disobedience, temper tantrums  and meltdowns in their children.

So being a mindful parent is very necessary while bringing up your  child. With home intervention through online mode as one of the ways of treating neurodevelopmental disorders, it will be possible for mental health professionals to provide therapy to a large number of  children, adolescents and parents in spite of the geographical area they are located in.  

Mental health experts are striving day in and day out to make a difference and help the people in need.  Parents and all the people in need should come out of the cocoon and set an example that taking care of  mental health is as normal as taking care of physical health.

Spreading awareness, having  acceptance, being sensitive, talking about each other’s problems and building a safe community is very  necessary in today’s ever changing world.

Henceforth, let us unite and work towards removing the  stigma associated with mental health and make this world a safe place for all. 

Also Read OMICRON VARIANT LIKELY TO REPLACE DELTA IN VARIOUS STATES: ICMR OFFICIAL STATES

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