For over a year, authorities in Pune district have helped provide early interventions in as many as 5,000 cases of children suffering from autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The help comes in the form of setting up therapeutic equipment like bolster, platform and tyre tube swings for treating autistic children to using optical fibre lights for improving concentration in children with ADHD.
The District Early Intervention Centre (DEIC) at Aundh General Hospital, which is yet to be officially inaugurated, was set up to provide a complete assessment and treatment for children from the 0-6 age group under one roof, and has been functional for over a year.
The centre identifies and treats defects at birth, deficiencies, childhood and development delays of children in Pune, Dr HH Chavan, deputy director of Pune circle, told The Indian Express.
The centre beings together different therapies and practices and combines them to provide care from a broader scope. It offers services such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychological testing, counseling and nutritional counseling, special education, and brings together specialists like paediatrician, medical officer, orthopaedician, paediatric dentist, optometrist, audiologist and speech therapist.
The children coming to the centre are mainly referred from schools and anganwadis by Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), an initiative of the government.
The initiative identifies children who require early intervention and refer them to the centre. The Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) also refers high risk babies and sends them to the centre. Other sources of referrals are OPDs and beneficiaries under the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Aarogya Yojana (RGJAY).
At Pune DEIC, we have treated more than 5,000 patients of different conditions, to date, said Dr Sanjay Deshmukh, district civil surgeon. “We want to identify health ailments by screening infants and providing a holistic assessment and intervention under one roof. The point is to intervene early and minimize disability. Once the disability is already established, then the intervention would include enhancement of child development to prevent progression of the handicap,” he said.
Some of the problems commonly seen in children are vision and hearing impairment, neuro-motor impairment, motor delay, cognitive delay, language delay and behaviour disorder. At least 568 patients have been treated by the physiotherapist, 386 by the occupational therapist while 522 were screened and treated by the clinical psychologist.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease of the eye affecting premature babies, has been done on 89 such babies with low birth weight.
The DEIC is now complete and specialties like OPDs along with a laboratory, ECG and 2D Echo room have been set up. Other equipment used for physiotherapy and special education like exercise balls, flash cards, beads and thread have also been added.
“We have set up specialised equipment to treat specific conditions. For example, if the child is autistic, various sensory stimulation therapy equipment like bolster swings, platform swing and tyre tube swing have been installed. Ball pool and different types of lights have also been added. A clinical psychologist who administers different types of developmental tools to identify behavioural and cognitive problems works closely with the special educator to teach the children so that they don’t fall behind in the regular school. The counseling of parents is done by the medical social workers,” said Deshmukh.