Fri Oct 21 11:10:19 CAT 2016

Congress on autism helps her understand son's condition

By unknown | Nov 30, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

Attending the World Autism Congress has helped Gugu Zwane understand what's wrong with her son.

Zwane's seven-year-old, Sifiso, is autistic.

"I wanted to find out what kind of help was available to my son and others like him," said Zwane, from Pretoria.

"I have learnt that Sifiso can reach his fullest potential."

The congress, held in Cape Town, offered presentations and workshops by experts on autism.

Zwane attended the indaba with the help of Sowetan's fairy godmother, Mama Angel, who helped with conference fees, airport transfers and books on the condition.

Zwane said: "I met psychologists, teachers and parents of autistic children. I was encouraged to hear how other parents managed to cope with the condition."

Autism is a complex disability and manifests in different ways. Autistic people are often isolated because few people understand their condition. Autism affects intellectual development, speech and social behaviour.

Sifiso has to attend a special school and eat special food.

Zwane said she needed a lot of patience to understand her son's irregular sleeping patterns and unpredictable behaviour.

She said finding a school that catered for Sifiso's needs was a challenge.

"He loves gadgets and manages to use some of them without any instructions. I would love to see him going to school and reaching his potential," she said.

Zwane said that a forum was needed to inform more people, especially those in the rural areas, about the disability.

"The congress inspired me to inform more people about autism. It is important for parents of autistic children to share their experiences and support each other."


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