‘Therapist not competent enough to take up autism cases’

The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Tuesday directed a therapist not to take up cases of autism stating that she was not experienced and competent enough to attend to such children.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: August 14, 2013 12:46 am

The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Tuesday directed a therapist not to take up cases of autism stating that she was not experienced and competent enough to attend to such children. In March,the family members of an 11-year-old boy had alleged torture by therapist Reena Singh from Khushi pediatric therapy centre,Andheri (East).

The family had filed a complaint with the Meghwadi police station alleging that Singh had tortured the child by boxing his ears and twisting his legs. The latter referred the case to MSCPCR.

In its second hearing of the case,the two-member bench of the commission observed,“You have deviated from the established procedures. The system applied by you to control the child wasn’t correct. You should not take up cases of autism as you are not experienced enough and not an expert to handle these cases.”

Singh told the Commission that she had obtained a BSc in occupational therapy from Nair Hospital and was qualified to handle autistic children. She said the child,diagnosed with mild to moderate autism,was attending speech therapy and occupational therapy sessions at the centre for the past five years. “He was screaming and crying profusely that day. He lay on the floor and repeatedly hit his feet against the floor. So I had to hold his feet. Later he hit his head on the floor. I also had to hold his ears. But all the force that was exerted by me was to prevent him from hurting himself,” she told the Bench.

When the commission questioned if the method used by her was the prescribed one to handling such situations,Singh admitted that she was wrong.

A three-member team from the department of pediatrics of Grant Medical College and Sir J J Group of Hospitals had earlier examined CCTV footage of the incident and submitted a report to the commission stating there is nothing to prove that the boy was ill-treated. The June 25 report said since papers of medical qualification of Singh had not been submitted,the team was not in a position to verify if she was a qualified therapist. The report further said autistic patients are known to throw temper tantrums.

Family members of the child,however,demanded that the clinic be shut down. “Singh is not a qualified doctor to treat autistic children. My grandson is still traumatised,” said the boy’s grandfather.

Ashwini Shejwal,Mumbai city coordinator of Childline,told the commission that they should examine the footage. The commission,however,said competent medical authorities have already submitted a report in the matter and it cannot be contradicted by them as they are not qualified doctors. In the previous hearing,Shejwal had told the commission that they had reviewed the footage and found that the child was tortured.

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