Services

Currently SCAU only sponsors basic diagnosis and therapy for a few cases among suspected children with autism we have come across during the autism awareness campaign. For example, we have SCAU sponsored children at two selected Autism Charities operating in Kampala District.
Support in all the requisite autistic health and therapy services will be provided at the proposed Autism Support Center in the central region of Uganda and other similar future centers in the rest of the country.The following are the therapy services SCAU seeks to provide for individuals living with autism once a support center is started:

Autism diagnosis

Diagnosis refers to identification of the nature of an illness or health disorder through examination of symptoms. In autism therapy, diagnosis is based on behavior, not cause or mechanism. Significant SCAU sponsored diagnosis will be done at the proposed center to ascertain Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASD) in persons suspected to have such a condition.

Sensory Integration Therapy(SIT)

Sensory integration is the process through which the brain organizes and interprets external stimuli such as movement, touch, smell, sight and sound. So, sensory integration therapy (SIT) is a form of occupational therapy in which special exercises are used to strengthen the patient’s sense of touch (tactile), sense of balance (vestibular), and sense of where the body and its parts are in space (proprioceptive). SIT is significant for helping the autistic with movement disorders or severe under- or over-sensitivity to sensory input.

The goal of SIT is to facilitate the development of the nervous system’s ability to process sensory input in a more typical way. Through integration the brain pulls together sensory messages and forms coherent information upon which to act. When successful, SIT can improve attention, concentration, listening, comprehension, balance, coordination and impulse control in some ASD children. SIT does not teach higher level skills, but enhances the sensory processing abilities thus allowing the child to acquire them.

For purposes of SIT, our therapists shall use neurosensory and neuromotor exercises to improve the brain’s ability to repair itself. A specific program will be planned to provide sensory stimulation to the child, often in conjunction with purposeful muscle activities, to improve how the brain processes and organizes sensory information. This will be performed by our hired therapists particularly an occupational and/or physiotherapist.

Applied behaviour therapy

Applied Behaviour Therapy (ABT), also known as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a process of understanding and changing behaviour. It’s not a specific therapy itself, but a range of different strategies and techniques that can be used to teach people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) new skills and reduce their difficult behaviour. The key ideas behind ABA are that: a) human behaviour is influenced by events or stimuli in the environment, and b) behaviour followed by positive consequences is more likely to happen again. ABA teaching techniques can be used for all children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
ABA and its techniques are useful for improving child social skills, self-care skills, communication skills, play skills and ability to manage own behaviour. It also helps reduce difficult behaviour like inattention, aggression and screaming. Bearing in mind key ideas behind ABA, SCAU will seek to provide positive consequences for appropriate behaviour and not for problematic behaviour. ABA will also be focussed on a specific problem, like screaming, and/or will used to work more broadly on a range of developmental areas at the same time, like communication, self-care and play skills.
The affected children will be taught new skills using a range of teaching techniques, which will include Discrete Trial Training and incidental teaching. Related will also use everyday interactions as opportunities for children to learn. Children will also be given lots of opportunities to practise new skills. As they learn skills, further skills will be added to their programs. Over time, skills will be combined into complex behaviour, like having conversations, playing cooperatively with others, or learning by watching others. Depending on children’s needs, ABA interventions will be delivered one to one, in a small group format at a centre, at home or in the community.
Parents, whose children will on an ABA program, will be helped to play an active role in in child development. They will be mobilised and asked to work with the ABA practitioner to develop and prioritise their children’s learning goals. The practitioners will provide parent training and support for parents, siblings and extended family where necessary. An experienced ABA practitioner will be used to oversee the ABA intervention program, alongside staff who will be working directly with your child. The staff include behavioural therapists or behaviour interventionists.

Other Activities

Networking and affiliations

We are networking and establishing affiliations with sister Autism Charities. We are links with Hope speak and Angels Centre. We have also established affiliations with Charity International Uganda (CIU), Nasir Charity International (NACI), and Dorna Centre for Autism.

Applied Behaviour Therapy (ABT), also known as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a process of understanding and changing behaviour. It’s not a specific therapy itself, but a range of different strategies and techniques that can be used to teach people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) new skills and reduce their difficult behaviour. The key ideas behind ABA are that: a) human behaviour is influenced by events or stimuli in the environment, and b) behaviour followed by positive consequences is more likely to happen again. ABA teaching techniques can be used for all children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
ABA and its techniques are useful for improving child social skills, self-care skills, communication skills, play skills and ability to manage own behaviour. It also helps reduce difficult behaviour like inattention, aggression and screaming. Bearing in mind key ideas behind ABA, SCAU will seek to provide positive consequences for appropriate behaviour and not for problematic behaviour. ABA will also be focussed on a specific problem, like screaming, and/or will used to work more broadly on a range of developmental areas at the same time, like communication, self-care and play skills.
The affected children will be taught new skills using a range of teaching techniques, which will include Discrete Trial Training and incidental teaching. Related will also use everyday interactions as opportunities for children to learn. Children will also be given lots of opportunities to practise new skills. As they learn skills, further skills will be added to their programs. Over time, skills will be combined into complex behaviour, like having conversations, playing cooperatively with others, or learning by watching others. Depending on children’s needs, ABA interventions will be delivered one to one, in a small group format at a centre, at home or in the community.
Parents, whose children will on an ABA program, will be helped to play an active role in in child development. They will be mobilised and asked to work with the ABA practitioner to develop and prioritise their children’s learning goals. The practitioners will provide parent training and support for parents, siblings and extended family where necessary. An experienced ABA practitioner will be used to oversee the ABA intervention program, alongside staff who will be working directly with your child. The staff include behavioural therapists or behaviour interventionists.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy involves treatment of body impairment through physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery. SCAU will provide physiotherapy mainly for autistic children with low muscle tone and delayed motor skills or struggling with gross motor skills; gait abnormalities, and motor planning. A child is said to have low muscle tone or hypotonia if his muscles are on the loose, floppy side. Children with low muscle tone often have delayed motor skills. A motor skill is simply an action that involves a child using his/her muscles. Gross motor skills are larger movements a child makes with his/her arms, legs, feet, or his entire body.

Gait abnormality is a deviation from normal walking (gait) while motor planning is the ability to conceive, plan, and carry out a skilled, non-habitual motor act in the correct sequence from beginning to end. The child with motor planning difficulties may be slow in carrying out verbal instructions and often appears clumsy in new tasks. These concerns can vary in severity and may affect the child anywhere from a mild impairment to significantly impacting his/her quality of life. Physiotherapy can help in all of these areas. It can be a key ingredient in the treatment of motor difficulties for children with such Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

SCAU will draft trained physiotherapists to help children in all of these physical areas. If the concern is a delay in gross motor skills, physiotherapists will offer exercises that can be done at home to help the child learn effective movement patterns, and improve balance and coordination, through functional play. If the issue is with gait concerns, physiotherapists will help teach a child how to stretch shortened muscles or strengthen weaker ones while working on overall gait bio-mechanics. While muscle tone cannot be changed, as it’s inherent to the neurological system, strength will definitely be improved to compensate. Motor planning is also an area which we will improve with specific training and goal setting with both the parents and the child.

Physiotherapists will always work closely within the multi-disciplinary team. They will work together with Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs), Occupational Therapists (OTs) and psychologists to greatly help a child make huge strides towards their goals; thus increasing self-esteem, function and improving overall quality of life.

Aquatic therapy

Aquatic therapy is a recreational therapy that involves the use of water and specifically designed water activities to help in restoration, improvement, and enhancing quality functions of an impaired person. Aquatic therapy is ideal for autistic persons especially children with significant sensory, social interaction and cognitive difficulties that are usually very distractible.

Water is one of the best mechanisms for body rehabilitation or exercise. It provides an ideal environment, which helps to reduce body weight by up to 90%. Warm water decreases stress or affect the body while also reducing spasticity and relaxing muscles. By engaging in specific well-directed water activities, the child is able to gauge his/her own body boundaries much better. The child is able to regulate the force that the body exerts when performing tasks or playing and this helps to improve posture, balance, and coordination.

Aquatic therapy will be used at a SCAU Autism Support Centre in the following ways. A therapist may start by evaluating the water temperature as well as noise and other distractions in the water. When all the factors are taken into consideration, the water will be used to provide a safe environment that supports the child while also providing him/ her with necessary hydrostatic pressure. Treated children may be able to tolerate touch better after aquatic therapy. SCAU will also adopt group hydrotherapy sessions for social skill improvement. The training will include sessions that target specific skills. During these group sessions, the children will work with the therapist and other children.
SCAU’s paediatric aquatic therapy will also focus on play-based functional movement, facilitating neurodevelopmental growth and improving range of motion. One-on-one sessions will be done to child impulse control, ability to follow instructions and frustration tolerance. Despite the benefits of aquatic therapy, SCAU is aware that children with Autism often present safety risks when they are in the water pool and their distracted nature can be a real problem, so it will be important to ensure intense supervision when these children are in the water. This will be the obligation our hydro therapists and support staff.

Documentations

As SCAU, we do record video documentaries and write online articles and blogs for purposes of promoting autism awareness.

Special Education

Special education also known as special needs education refers to the special educational arrangements which are in place for children with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASD). One is a person with special educational needs if his/her capacity to participate in and benefit from education is restricted due to an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or learning disability. Therefore, special education is the practice of educating such persons in a way that addresses their individual differences and needs. Ideally, this process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangements of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials, and accessible settings.
In our case, special education will be provided for the autistic children enlisted for formal special learning. She should exhibit common special needs including; learning disabilities such as dyslexia, communication disorders, emotional and behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, and developmental disabilities associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASD). Special education interventions help such special needs individuals to achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and in their community which may not be available if the individual was only given access to a typical classroom education.
SCAU will adopt the segregation approach for special child education. At an autism support center, the education department will have a special school for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASD) and thus having special learning needs. In this approach, there will not be non-disabled learners. Segregated children will spend all instructional time exclusively in special classrooms designed and hosted at the support center. SCAU aims to provide adjusted quality education to all children at the center.
Child education will be based on where the learners are, not necessarily what the curriculum demands. The children will be grouped according to ability and the instructors will build on what the children know, allowing multiple learning styles to be engaged. Our concept will be an early intervention so as to promote growth and development of children. For a concerted intervention, SCAU will offer training to parents to make them understand the true causes of their child’s disability and empower them to address community discrimination whilst also promoting their child’s good health and communication development. Child education and parents’ training will be executed by specialized teachers and/or instructors with rich expertise in autism.

Speech therapy

Speech therapy is an intervention service that focuses on improving a child’s speech and abilities to understand and express language, including nonverbal language. The treatment is useful for correcting speech and communication disorders. The approach used varies depending on the disorder. There are a number of communication challenges that an autistic person can face. Given that autism is such a broad spectrum, different people will face different issues to varying degrees. These can include not talking, grunting, moaning, not making eye-contact, or using fabricated words. Speech therapy may not be the first thing to think of about autism, but it is an extremely beneficial treatment for autistic children. Other than the obvious benefits of improved communication, speech therapy can help the autistic better interact with others, build relationships, and integrate into society.
As SCAU we will adopt speech therapy in two components: a) coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences (to address articulation, fluency, and voice volume regulation); and b) understanding and expressing language (to address the use of language through written, pictorial, body, and sign forms, and the use of language through alternative communication systems such as social media, and computers).
We shall use speech therapy in a number of different ways to address related communication issues. As autism is such a personal condition, each case is highly unique and there is no blanket treatment that can be applied across the board. But there are commonly used techniques, and thus our therapy will largely be a mix of several methods depending on the challenges faced. These will include typing, singing songs, using flashcards with pictures and words, and learning sentences with a particular inflection i.e. putting the stress on the right parts of the sentence. Speech therapists, or speech and language pathologists (SLPs), are the professionals who shall invite to provide these services.

Occupational therapy

In occupational therapy, occupations refer to everyday activities that people do as individuals, in families and within communities to occupy time and bring meaning and purpose to life. Occupations include things people need to, want to and are expected to do. The use of particular activities as an aid to recuperate from physical or mental illness is what is referred to as occupational therapy. This therapy therefore refers to treatment of people with physical, emotional, or social problems, using purposeful activity to help them overcome or learn to deal with their problems.
In an autistic context, occupational therapy is a health care profession which teaches, maintains, and promotes competent behaviour in areas of living, learning, and working among the autistic persons whose ability to function in daily life has been disrupted. Purposeful activity, therapeutic exercise, special equipment, skills training and environmental modifications are used to maximise the person’s ability to attain independence in everyday living. This kind of therapy is necessary for persons leaving with autism experiencing illness, developmental deficits, and/or physical and psychological dysfunction or who are otherwise at risk.
The overall goal of occupational therapy is to help the person with autism improve his or her quality of life. The therapy helps introduce, maintain, and improve skills so that people with autism can be as independent as possible. The following are some of the skills occupational therapy may foster:

  • Daily living skills, such as toilet training, dressing, brushing teeth, and other grooming skills.
  • Fine motor skills required for holding objects while handwriting or cutting with scissors.
  • Gross motor skills used for walking, climbing stairs, or riding a bike.
  • Sitting, posture, or perceptual skills, such as telling the differences between colours, shapes, and sizes.
  • Awareness of his or her body and its relation to others.
  • Visual skills for reading and writing.
  • Play, coping, self-help, problem solving, communication, and social skills.
  • As SCAU we will employ occupational therapy in the following ways. Once an occupational therapist gathers information, he or she will develop a program for the autistic child. The therapist will observe children to see if they can do tasks they are expected to do at their ages, for example getting dressed or playing a game. Sometimes, the therapist will have the child videotaped during the day in order to see how the child interacts with his or her environment so that he or she can better assess the kind of care the child needs.
    The therapist might note any of the following

    • Attention span and stamina.
    • Transition to new activities.
    • Play skills.
    • Need for personal space.
    • Responses to touch or other types of stimuli.
    • Motor skills such as posture, balance, or manipulation of small objects.
    • Aggression or other types of behaviours.
    • Interactions between the child and caregivers.
    • Occupational therapy may be combined a variety of strategies. These would help children respond better to the environment. Such strategies may include:
    • Physical activities, such as stringing beads or doing puzzles, to help a child develop coordination and body awareness.
    • Play activities to help with interaction and communication.
    • Developmental activities, such as brushing teeth and combing hair.
    • Adaptive strategies, including coping with transitions.
      Our Occupational therapists will work as part of a team that includes parents, teachers, and other professionals. The therapist will be experts in the social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury.