Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Teachers, social workers and Mental Health Professionals have received training in order to provide support to children who are affected by the Autism Spectrum disorder.
Director of Mental Health Services, Dr. Virginia Rubaine said that there is an increased prevalence of children who are on the autism spectrum. “We are looking for innovative and technologically advanced ways that we can interact with these children to give them the necessary skills so they can navigate life more effectively,” she said.
Programme Director for Autism, Ms. Lorna Dawson said that many of the children they work with have challenges understanding and expressing emotions and navigating social situations, but like most children, they also love electronic gadgets. She said training in using the Secret Agent Society (SAS) software will enable the Autism Centre to provide clients with skills to help them deal with emotions and social situations.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder Skills Training Workshop was organised as a result of collaboration between Unite BVI, the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the BVI Health Services Authority. The session was facilitated by Advocate Dr. Renae Beaumont.
Dr. Beaumont said that the objectives of the workshop were to increase the awareness, understanding and diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum conditions and to introduce and teach participants how to use the SAS software game pack. The revolutionary computer programme was developed by Dr. Beaumont for children 8 to12 years that have social and emotional challenges.
The facilitator encouraged parents to pay attention to early signs that their child might be struggling socially and to seek help early.
“Parents should speak to their primary care provider or the schools to allow for proper testing to find out if there is a challenge, because the key to the best outcomes for persons on the autism spectrum is early diagnosis and appropriately tailored intervention,” she stressed.
Dr. Beaumont also encouraged parents not to be disheartened if their child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
"My message to parents is to see the strengths that kids on the spectrum could have. I also want them to know that there are many professionals in this area that are really passionate about creating new interventions and support to help children to reach their potential,” she added.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterised in varying degrees by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
BVI Health Services Authority is committed to delivering excellent, compassionate, client centered healthcare across the Territory.