Cayman lacks stats on challenging condition

| 02/04/2010

Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, health , Mark Scotland(CNS): In a message marking World Autism Awareness Day, the minister of health admitted that there are no statistics in the Cayman Islands about how much the condition is impacting families here, but, he said, the HSA is working on a national protocol for screening. A campaign has also begun to raise awareness of the condition with health care staff and those working with pre-schoolers. Mark Scotland said without a cure the only recourse was to build knowledge about autism and offer professional help and personal support to those families who are coping with it.

 Minister’s message:

“Today is World Autism Awareness Day, designated by the United Nations to highlight autism as a growing epidemic, to promote early diagnosis and intervention, and to build support for those with this complex neurological disorder. A campaign has also begun to raise awareness of the condition with health care professionals and those working with pre-schoolers.

“The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade and globally some 67 million people are affected. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined. In the United States the latest statistics showed such a marked increase in autistic children, that it prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to call autism a national public health crisis.

“In the United Kingdom, the National Autistic Society estimates that more than half a million people have some form of autism.

“Currently, we have no scientific data on autism in the Cayman Islands, but we know that autism is present here too. And while much still needs to be done in countering this syndrome, I am glad to report that our Health Services Authority (HSA) is already actively pursuing a national protocol for screening and referral. This will form the base for a multi-year study to determine local prevalence and track the effectiveness of intervention. 

“The HSA has also started an awareness campaign among public health nurses, pediatricians and private medical professionals, led by its in-house speech and language pathologist. Also, the Education Department’s Early Intervention Programme focuses on increasing autism awareness among pre-school staff. This is further supported by private sector efforts from the Wellness Centre and the Special Needs Foundation.

“But all this must go hand-in-hand with a greater public awareness. We need preschool teachers, parents, family and friends to be aware of autism’s early signs; we must ensure that a concerned parent has access to trained screeners and that early assessments are available to all children.

“We are dealing with a syndrome with an unknown cause and no known cure. As such, the urgency of this awareness drive is clear. Our only recourse is to build knowledge, and offer professional help and personal support to those living with autism. Without it, autism can be debilitating, robbing children of even the simple prospect of living an independent life one day.

“For parents, daily life with an autistic child presents many unique challenges. Apart from juggling the need for hours of therapy with everyday demands, parents feel the stress of living with a child who struggles to communicate life’s basic needs and emotions — hunger, fatigue, sadness or happiness. Unfortunately, many parents have to take on this struggle alone as talking openly about autism is still largely a taboo in Cayman society simply because people misunderstand the causes. But, autistic children and their parents need our help and understanding.

“So, as we observe World Autism Awareness Day, let us live up to its slogan of Compassion, Inclusion, Hope.

"Learn about autism, talk about it, and educate your children so they can treat autistic classmates with kindness and empathy. Because, as a mother with an autistic child once said: “We should not be mourning for an imperfect child, but for an imperfect world. They are a gift. So we just need to find the skills to get them through this imperfect world.”




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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Autism is a health issue that we should focus more on in Cayman and try to learn as much as we can expecially as so many beautiful children amongst suffer from this illness.

    What is the benefit of the post about Mr. Scotland being out of his depth?

    Pray that your child or family member and friend won’t suffer from this illness as you are very insensitive to make such a facetious comment.

    You should engage your brain before you attempt to write.

    • Anonymous says:

      And the point of your response is what? Can you please explain what Scotland knows about health & medicine? The fact, despite what you think, is that the wrong person is the Minister of health. But again, the wrong person is Minister of finance also. What does he know about finance? HAHA. But we can’t expect any better from the UDP.
      And your point is? 

    • Anonymous says:

      Surely the benfit of the post is to hopefully embaress Scotand and bring about an appointee who actualy has some medical training. Scotland in charge of health is a joke, but only one of many in Cayman (political appointees who have no qualification for the job and whose ignorance holds back progress in Cayman) 

  2. Anonymous says:

    One of the reasons for setting up CINICO according to the Ministry at the time was so there would be masses of information collected on all the diseases and medical conditions in Cayman. All it has done has paid big salaries to its employees.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Scotland is out of his depth where health issues is concerned, what on earth does he know abouthealth? He should stick to roads (but that is a sore subject also).