USTM observed Autism Day with children of Assam Autism Foundation


9th Mile, Khanapara, Ri Bhoi, 5 April 2018: The Department of Education, University of Science & Technology, Meghalaya observed World Autism Awareness Day by conducting a special day-long interactive program between the children of Assam Autism Foundation and the students of Psychology and Education Department of the University on 2nd April. Several cycling enthusiasts who took the initiative of venturing on a cycle rally for the awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder were also present in the event. The program aimed at sensitizing students, teachers and other professionals about the nature and needs of a person with autism.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Seal, the Coordinator of Assam Autism Foundation, said that people are very less aware about the Autism Spectrum Disorder. He gave a brief description about the characteristic of an autistic child and the changes they go through as they grow up and the challenges they face in the society. He made the participants aware about the various qualities every autistic child in their institution possessed and how care and love from the society and family can shape their life in a better way.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Bishnu Baishya, Psychiatrist at GMCH, said that Autistic children are not mentally retarded but they just lack social and communication skills. He outlined that there is no specific cause for this disorder but early detection can help the child to cope up with the challenges better. He gave an example of one of his patients who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder but this disability didn't stop him to achieve whatever he wanted in his life. Dr Baishya called on the people to change their attitude towards autistic people and said that to create a balanced society it is necessary to accept everyone the way they are.

One of the autistic students, who had a special skill of memorizing almost everything, performed a beautiful song in the programme. He surprised everyone by answering the birth date and the year of celebrities. The students USTM interacted with him and enjoyed his company throughout the program. During the program, the students and the teachers of USTM got an opportunity to interact with all the students of the Foundation. There were a total of 13 students present, all having their own unique abilities and were kind enough to showcase their talents to the visiting guests. It was accompanied by an insight into the productivity of the students in the form of various crafts that was prepared by them and was out for sale.

Patricia Mukhim, the Chief Guest of the award function, said that social work requires a special commitment. Work starts at the family and community level. One of the key learning of social work is how to b4ring people above the poverty line. Their task is to advocate for those who are voiceless, she said. She emphasized on the significance of the World Social Work Day and said that it is a day in the year that social workers worldwide stand together to celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme message into their communities, workplaces and to their governments to raise awareness of the social work contributions and need for further action. Payeng’s mission began in 1979 when he was just 14 with planting of 50 bamboo trees in order to prevent death of snakes as many snakes died that year due to heat and the absence of trees. Over the years, the once barren sandbar has turned into a dense forest home to many wild animals.

Speaking on the occasion, Mahbubul Hoque, Chancellor of USTM said that the university is determined to take care of the environment and greenery. “We are extremely happy to have Jadav Payeng, the forest man of India among us who has shown the world how determination, dedication and persistent hard work of a single person can convert a barren land into a forest that now houses Bengal tigers, Indian rhinoceros, and over 100 deer and rabbits”.

Earlier, the welcome address was delivered by Dr. Prateeti Barman, Head, Department of Social Work. The programme ended with the vote of thanks delivered by Dr. R.K. Sharma, Vice Chancellor, USTM. The World Social Work Day is celebrated each year on the third Tuesday of March. This year’s celebration highlights on ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’, which relates to the third pillar of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development. Every year, USTM celebrates it by giving the Social Work Excellence Award to individuals who have immensely contributed to the society.

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