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TOPIC: autism


In Nepal, Good And Bad News About Autism Treatment

Parents in Karnali province started their own center to meet the need. But without adequate government funding, its survival is in doubt.

SURKHET — Purnakala Dhakal spends her days feeling constantly overwhelmed. Her 6-year-old daughter, Prem Kumari, has autism, and Dhakal is often afraid to leave her unsupervised. There is no one to help take care of her child; her husband also has a developmental disorder. “My family blames me for giving birth to a daughter who is disabled,” she says. “No one loves or plays with her.”

Knowledge of autism is limited in Nepal, although advocates estimate that as many as 300,000 people may be living with it. To receive a diagnosis, one must travel to the capital. This is what Dhakal did when her daughter was around 2 years old. This is also what Sushila Shahi Thapa did when she sensed her son Alex wasn’t hitting the usual milestones of early childhood development. A resident of Dailekh district, which neighbors Surkhet, Thapa had no knowledge of autism spectrum disorder, despite working as a nurse at a local hospital.

“The behavior my son displayed seemed unnatural,” she says. “When I shared my concern with family members, they said not to worry because some children are slow to start speaking.”

Alex was 18 months old when he received a diagnosis in Kathmandu. Thapa then sought treatment for him at the AutismCare Nepal Society, a nongovernmental organization based in Lalitpur in the Kathmandu valley. Founded in 2008, the organization is run by parents of children with autism. Through the society, Thapa and her husband also received training on how best to take care of a child with special needs; when they returned home, Thapa trained other family members, too.

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Despair, Love, Betrayal — Then Death: A Ukrainian War Diary

Volodymyr Vakulenko was a Ukrainian writer killed by the Russians during the invasion. He left behind a diary that is intensely personal, yet encompasses much of the tragedy of his nation.

KYIV — Volodymyr Vakulenko lived in the Ukrainian village of Kapitolivka near Izyum, with his 14-year-old son who has autism. Volodymyr was abducted by the Russians back in March, in the weeks after the invasion. For months, his family, investigators, fellow writers, journalists and volunteers searched for him in vain.

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Volodymyr recounted in his diary, which was later found, the first weeks of the Russian invasion of the Izyum region in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv-based media Livy Bereg takes a look back at Volodymyr's life and publishes excerpts from his diary, the original of which is now kept in the Kharkiv Literary Museum.

This is his story:

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My Grown Son And The Language Of Autism, A Christmas Tale

He's laughing and blushing, but he's not having any of this Christmas singing stuff. No way!

At Christmastime in our house, the Holiday Prohibitions go into effect. Recently, I made the mistake of meekly testing a rule, almost whispering, "Hark the herald angels sing / Glory to the . . . "

"No newborn king today!" my 32-year-old autistic son shouts from across the living room, smiling but wary.

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In French Countryside, A Home Built Especially For Autistic Patients

The architecture and interior design of a residential care home serving autistic people were specially designed to make the patients more comfortable. A look inside the award-winning facility.

CHAMPCEVRAIS — On the village square, just a few steps from a magnificent tree, a small group of people are chatting over coffee. Close by, others are reading or napping, curled up in curvy wooden deck chairs. It's an almost ordinary countryside scene.

Almost. The village square, around which this community is organized, is covered by a zinc vault with a glass roof and skylights. This is the heart of a unique building where 18 people with autism, aged from 20 to 60, have been living since November 2014.

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Silke Bigalke

Sweden's Winning Formula For Special-Needs Education

STOCKHOLM — Tove likes math because it's so logical, the sixth grader says. If she doesn't understand a question, the boy who sits next to her, Viggo, repeats it for her. Tove is deaf and wears a hearing aid, though it's not visible under her long blonde hair. But it's the reason that during class everybody speaks into small black devices in front of them that look like iPods being charged.

The teacher draws a family on the board — father, mother, children — and writes their ages under the figures. The class is supposed to calculate averages and means, and they're doing well. Besides Tove, there are two other children in the room, both dyslexic, who require particular attention from the teacher.

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Lorenz Wagner

The Curious Case Of A Gifted Boy Comforted By War Games

In a seaside town in the Netherlands, an 11-year-old boy creates a private war zone in his everyday environment. What should his parents do?

HOEK VAN HOLLAND — There’s that Timon again, skulking around. The kindergarten teacher spots him through the window, and her eyes follow his movements.

The boy is the talk of the whole neighborhood, she says. The look of him, with his camouflage military clothing, black face mask, gun in hand. He’s here, not Kabul. Here is Hoek van Holland, a peaceful Netherlands sea town near Rotterdam, with a drug store, a petting zoo, and a ferry that comes in from the UK every morning and evening.

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Lena Jakat

Internet-Only School Gives Bullied Kids A Second Chance

BOCHUM — Katja stares into her laptop camera and bites her lower lip. “Hmm, yes...” She confirms that she understands how chromosome divisions work.

In front of another laptop, her teacher Julia Wirth holds up a piece of paper with circles and Xs drawn in green and red pen. Meiosis and mitosis. Katja nods from Wirth’s screen. The 16-year-old sits in a farmhouse some 40 kilometers from her teacher. But that doesn’t matter, she could just as well be in China — or in Hungary, like some of her classmates. It’s 8:15 a.m. on Monday, and Germany’s only Internet school has just started its day.

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Federico Varese

On Its 50th Anniversary, An Appreciation Of John Le Carre's Classic Spy Novel

CORNWALL — Every year we holiday in a small village in Cornwall, where there’s a church, the odd gift shop, a gastro pub and a bar. From the main street, concrete steps lead to a beach that is almost always deserted, and buffeted by the wind. The few brave souls who venture into the water make sure to don wetsuits. We, however, are content to roam freely on the unspoiled sand, waiting for the tide to go out and allow us access to the coastline’s second bay.

The “we” is a somewhat disparate group of people: a Siberian grandma, two Anglo-American children and a Russian mother, plus a suitcase full of books. This year my wife Galina read, with tears in her eyes, The Reason I Jump, written by a 13-year-old Japanese boy, Naoki Higashida, who has managed to escape the prison of autism and recount his inner life. The book was recommended to us by family friends who live around here, in a large house that stands high at the edge of the earth. I re-readThe Spy who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carré. It is hard to say why, for the third time, I picked up this classic of English literature. Perhaps because I associate Cornwall with Le Carré, who has lived here for 30 years. Perhaps because it is a book that creates a long-lasting, incurable addiction.

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Laura Rethy and Lorenz Vossen

Autism From The Inside - Living With My Brain In Overdrive

BERLIN - The traffic on this German road moves along in a neat pattern, changed only when a car makes a right.

When it does, Markus Behrendt turns to look out the window. He may only have seen the turning car – a change in pattern – out of the corner of his eye, but it requires his complete attention. His brain is in high gear. He says: “My memory is filled with nonsense,” by which he means all the unnecessary sensory stimuli around him.

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