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Boys at greater risk of inheriting autism, Oman workshop told
October 10, 2016 | 10:19 PM
by Khadija Alzadjali / [email protected]
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Muscat: A week-long autism workshop is training 150 individuals on how to treat, rehabilitate and deal with those suffering from autism in Oman.

The workshop, which started on Monday, is the third to be organised by the Ministry of Social Development. Dr Ralph Sperry, Chief Operating Officer for the May Institute, and Dr Robert Putnam, Executive Vice-President of the May Institute, were both guest speakers from the USA-based not-for-profit organisation that focuses on the autism spectrum disorder in particular.

The workshop is the third of its kind to be organised. There has also been a series of events and functions to raise awareness about the disorder.

Dr Amira Al Raidan, head of the Mental Health Department at the Non-Communicable Diseases Department of the Ministry of Health and psychiatrist at the Addiction Unit of Al Masarrah Hospital, believes that the more people are educated on this issue, the more help those with autism can get.



“There is a demand for more workshops in Oman,” Dr. Amira said. “The success of the workshops are based on the success of the services provided that were learned from the workshop itself.”

Although autism statistics and data is scarce, health officials are calling it an “epidemic phenomena”. Boys are four times more likely to genetically inherit autism than girls, and around 70 percent of identical male twins have the disorder. According to Dr Amira, there is no actual rise in autistic cases, but experts now have a better diagnosis and more special criteria thanks to the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).



“This is the issue, we don’t have a national database,” Dr. Amira said. “We are having frequent meetings with the Ministry of Education and Development to explore the services they have and share our experiences with being resourceful and screening.”

Last September, the national screening for autism spectrum disorder started in hopes of being able to detect early signs of autism. The program, which originally started at vaccination clinics, has now been introduced into schools and is used by nurses to collect the data.

“In ten minutes of filling out a survey,” Dr Amira said, “We will have an idea on whether or not we need to make more calls or send the child for treatment. We try to approach the health service at the school level.”

The workshop is free and will end on Thursday.

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