Rawalpindi-World famed author on autism and teacher Dr Temple Grandin on Wednesday urged parents of autistic children in Pakistan to adopt a gradual approach to developing their diverse abilities at an early age to make them good artists, mathematical thinkers, computer programmers or motor mechanics for leading a normal life.

Dr Temple’s advice to parents came during her online exclusive interview with lecturer and clinical psychologist of the National University of Medical Science (NUMS) Ms Halima Sadia Qureshi on the occasion of a seminar on autism. It was organized by the NUMS Department of Psychology for creating awareness and provides guidelines to parents of such children. Home Box Office (HBO) a leading American cable television company produced her biopic named “Temple Grandin” in 2010 to acknowledge her great contribution to autism.

World Autism Awareness Day is marked by the United Nations General Assembly every year in April to emphasize the need to assist autistic children to improve their quality of life.

The theme for autism day this year was “Inclusive Quality Education for All.” The seminar was attended by Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities Prof Azam Chaudhry, Dr Shazia Khalid Head of Psychology Department and students while Head of Psychology Department Air University Islamabad Dr Uzma Masroor was the chief guest on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Head of Psychology in Air University Dr Uzma Masroor said that parts of the brain of an autistic child do not integrate in a normal way and it was a condition in which a child could not socialize, communicate in a verbal or non-verbal way and had an unusual behaviour.

She said such children could be very intelligent but they lacked social understanding and behaved differently.

Sometimes they continued doing one thing over and over again and did whatever they liked to do, she added. Dr Uzma said that as the awareness about the disease was growing in Pakistan more autistic children were being diagnosed and more parents were consulting doctors to treat their disorder.

In her brief remarks, Prof. Dr Shazia Khalid appreciated the efforts of Ms Halima Sadia and the students in convening a successful and well-planned seminar on autism. Such events, she said, were an essential part of building connections between academia and community and the transfer of knowledge to stakeholders of society. Dr Uzma also distributed certificates to the winners of the poster competition among the students of the Psychology Department and lauded their work displayed through poster competition, skits and videos which covered all the aspects of autism.

Now a professor of animal sciences in an American university, Dr Temple authored a book on autism “Dr Temple Grandin, The Way I See It,” in which she gave practical tips to parents on detecting and rearing the autistic children besides giving them guidelines for diagnosis and education of such children, she added. She said her mother was always working to help her slowly learn many things including driving. She said working and academic skills were not the same, hence autistic children could be taught computer programming, and text messaging instead of playing computer games but they learn slowly. She said: “Autism is a long-term neurological condition that starts in early childhood, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Most people with autism have unique social interactions, different ways of learning, strong interests in certain subjects, a preference for routines, difficulties with typical communication, and unique ways of processing sensory information.”