Autism awareness walk – April 2023
April is observed as Autism Awareness month - a time to recognize and support millions of individuals around the world who are on the autism spectrum. Divi’s Foundation for Gifted Children (DFGC) in partnership with Fernandez child development centre (FCDC) has organized an Autism awareness Walk on 9th April 2023 at the KBR park to come together as a community, have fun, raise awareness and support for individuals with autism More than 500 supporters from Divi’s, FCDC, Families & Friends, Fitness enthusiasts took part by circling a full walk at the KBR park with an aim to spread awareness of Autism.
Autism awareness walk @Vizag – April 2023
On April 23, 2023, our Vizag team organized an Autism Awareness Walk at RK Beach Road, with over 500 participants from Divi's, families, friends, and fitness enthusiasts joining together as a community to support individuals with autism. The walk involved circling the full length of the beach, with the goal of spreading awareness about autism and promoting acceptance and inclusion. We at Divi's are committed to making a positive impact in our communities, and events like these provide us with the opportunity to show our support for those affected by autism. We believe that by coming together and raising awareness, we can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.
March 1-3, 2023 • Hyderabad, India
Addressing Challenges and Creating Opportunities
About I-CAN 2023
THE INDO-CANADIAN AUTISM NETWORK (I-CAN) is an international volunteer network that links Canadian expertise with Indian clinicians and researchers in autism and related disorders. I-CAN’s primary goal is to provide participating centers in India and Canada with a platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge and experience.
I-CAN hosted a 3-day event from 1st March to 3rd March 2023, at Hyderabad, India, with dual aims of continuing building capacity through training and education, and exploring opportunities for further international collaboration to improve the quality of life of autistic children, adolescents and adults, and their families in India.
I-CAN 2023 delivered 2 days of intensive clinical training workshops, panel discussions, and keynotes focusing on member identified priority areas. Further, the I-CAN conference presented an opportunity for the delegates to increase active networking of clinicians and researchers within India and tap on resources developed in different I-CAN sites. This followed by a day-long roundtable meeting for the I-CAN Leads to brainstorm key components for moving forward with the mission of the Indo-Canadian Autism Network.
ABOUT THE SYMPOSIUM
The symposium held in 2 parts:
Part 1 is set of 2-day training workshop. This was open to I-CAN Leads from Canada and India as well as 3 delegates from each I-CAN India site.
Keynote address, invited speakers and workshops on Day 1 provided advances tools, approaches and strategies to clinicians and researchers working in the field of autism and its related disorders in the following areas:
- Transitional aged youth with autism and developmental disorders.
- Advanced training in complex cases and its management
- ADOS and reliability training exercises
- Challenging behavior and adaptive skills
- Social ABCs
Day 2 Introduced important and relevant topics related to problems in autistic adolescents and adults in the following areas:
- Alternative and augmentative communication options.
- Adolescents and adult community living
- Sexual health, abuse prevention and sexual identity in autism and related disorders
- Indigenous approaches to autism and their relevance in the Indian context i.e. homeopathy, ayurveda and yoga.
- Mental health approaches and its need for children and parents/caregivers of families with autism
Three workshops running concurrently each day, were led by Indian and Canadian leads in specific areas.
- Each workshop accommodated up to 18 trainees.
- 20 Canadian and Indian Leads and 36 trainees from the I-CAN Sites
Part 2 was roundtable brainstorming and planning session of 2023-24, with Canadian and Indian I-CAN leads.
- 15 Indian participants and 7 Canadian participants.
August 2022 –11th NMDC Hyderabad Marathon
Divi’s Foundation for Gifted Children (DFGC) has actively participated in the 11th NMDC Hyderabad Marathon to support the cause and raise awareness about Autism.
More than 400 supporters took part in the marathon (5K/10K) including several employees of Divi’s Laboratories & Fernandez Hospitals with an aim to spread awareness of Autism.
We thank all the supporters who participated in the run and wish many more supporters will join our cause in the future and help the ~2.2 million children in India that are diagnosed with Autism.
17th to 19th February 2020 - Indo Canadian Conference (I-CAN)
Leaving A Footprint – Founding A Network
As a continuation to the I-CAN conference in 2019, Divi’s Foundation hosted a conference in February 2020. 5 delegates from Canada collaborated with various Indian centres trained nearly 60 delegates from these centres on advanced topics in the field of Autism Care. This conference was held for 3 days; the first two days are training sessions with smaller groups focussing on special topic areas. The third day was a round table conference.
Objectives of Workshop:
- Aims at building capacity through training and developing an international network for clinicians and researchers.
- Focusing on priority areas of diagnosis, early intervention, complex presentations, and family support, I-CAN 2020 included a series of 2-day training workshops, followed a 1-day roundtable meeting devoted to forward engagement and network development.
Training Workshop Sessions:
- Workshop 1:Diagnostic assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Clinical Introduction to the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)- Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
- Workshop 2: ASD and Comorbidity: A Workshop on Clinical Approach to Assessing and Treating Complex Patients Throughout their Development - Vikram Dua
- Workshop 3:Understanding How Children Learn: A Framework to Address Challenging Behaviour And Teach Adaptive Skills - Kavita Kamat
- Workshop 4: An Introduction to the Social ABCs for Infants and Toddlers with Emergent Autism Spectrum Disorders - Kate Bernardi and Erin Dowds
I-CAN Faculty Profile:
Vikram Dua, MD, FRCP(C)
Dr. Dua is a Child and Adolescent psychiatrist with clinical and research interests in complex individuals with autism and developmental disabilities – and systems of care that partner with community providers to enhance access to clinical expertise and evidence-based treatments. Dr. Dua has 20 years’ experience developing and implementing innovative dual-diagnosis services in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. He has also provided training and consultation to several autism centres across India over the last decade. Dr. Dua is the Canadian lead of the Indo-Canadian Autism Network (I-CAN), dedicated to increasing knowledge and capacity for neurodevelopmental services and research in India.
Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, MD, FRCP(C)
Dr. Zwaigenbaum is Edmonton Zone Clinical Department Head for Child Health with Alberta Health Services and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. He is also a Clinician Scientist supported by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Chair in Autism, Distinguished Scientist Award of Stollery Science Lab, and national awards from CIHR, Brain Canada, and Autism Speaks Canada. His research focuses on early detection and diagnosis, as well as factors influencing development and outcomes, of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). He directs one of the two Canadian sites of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, which focuses on optimizing health care for children with ASD.
Dan Goldowitz, Ph.D.
Dr. Goldowitz received his PhD in Psychobiology at the University of California at Irvine and did postdoctoral training in Boston, Stockholm and Salt Lake City where the focus was on brain development. Currently, he is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics and Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at UBC and member of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics. He led a successful application and a renewal for a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence in brain development in late 2009 and 2014, called NeuroDevNet, and now called Kids Brain Health Network.
Kavita Kamat, MSW, M.Ed., BCBA
Ms. Kamat is a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst and the Clinical Director of Laurel Behaviour Support Services (LBSS). LBSS provides behaviour support to over 300 children and over 200 adults across the Lower Mainland, the Island, Sunshine Coast and the Okanagan region in British Columbia. Kavita has extensive experience working with culturally diverse families with children who have autism and other cognitive disabilities in home, school, community and residential settings. As the Director of the program she currently provides clinical supervision and oversight to a team of 30 clinicians.
Kate Bernardi, BAH, CCLS
Ms. Bernardi is a Social ABCs early intervention trainer, parent coach and a certified Child Life Specialist (CLS), with a background in psychology and child development. Kate has worked in the Autism Research Centre at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital for the past ten years, first on the Baby Siblings study monitoring very early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and then with Social ABCs as a parent coach for both the in-home and group programs. She is also a trained trainer, teaching new staff and multidisciplinary teams to deliver the Social ABCs in various practice settings.
Erin Dowds, MA, ECS.
Ms. Dowds has been a parent coach with the Social ABCs since its development in 2007. Erin holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies and is knowledgeable in very early intervention in autism spectrum disorders. Erin is an experienced trainer of Social ABCs parent coaches in both research and community contexts and is passionate about parent-mediated intervention in the early years of a child’s development.
Centres Attended the Workshop:
- Action for Autism
- Centre for Child Development and Disabilities
- Fernandez Child Development Centre
- Latika Roy Memorial Foundation
- Sethu Centre for Child Development
- St. John’s Medical College Hospital
- London Learning Centre
- Goa Medical College
24th July 2019 – Indo Canadian Conference (I-CAN)
A delegation of 12 Indian clinicians and researchers met with 5 Canadian experts in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for a day-long conference on the topics of ASD, the current status and needs of ASD clinical services and research in India. The main objective of this conference was to share expertise with Indian clinicians, researchers and stakeholders, and together explore issues like identification of priorities, challenges with knowledge mobilization, and real-life realities of translation to the Indian context. The conference was broken into eight 45-minute sessions focussing on specific topics.
The Delegates who participated:
- Vikram Dua University of Toronto
- Lonnie Zwaigenbaum University of Alberta
- Dan Goldowitz University of British Columbia
- Jessica Brian University of Toronto
- Patrick McGrath Dalhousie University
- Nandini Mundkur Center for Child D&D
- Nandita DE Souza Sethu Centre for Child Development
- Supriya Malik London Learning Centre
- Pramod Gaddam Fernandez Hospital Foundation
- John Vijay Sagar Nat. Institute MH and Neurosciences
- Mimi Silveira Goa Medical College
- Nidhi Singhal Action for Autism
- Koyeli Sengupta Ummeed
- Ashok MV St. John's Medical College Hospital
- Sheffali Gulati All India Institute of Medical Sciences
- Aarti Nair Latika Roy Foundation
- Meera Srinath NIMHANS/UNC
The main discussion themes included:
- Identification: Diagnosis, Screening and Surveillance
- Early Interventions for children with ASD
- Complex Presentations and Comorbidities
- Parent/Family support needs
- Outreach, Community Engagement and Knowledge Translation
- Capacity-Building and Training
- Research and Professional Mentoring
Next Steps and Strategic Plan
- Help create ASD centre(s) of excellence across India.
- Assist in developing simple local tools.
- Provide low-cost, highly accessible targeted training workshops.
- Webinar series and/or online courses
- Access to ongoing clinical supervision and mentoring
- Mentoring fellowships – individualized by centres depending on need (could be research, clinical, cross-disciplinary)
- Pilot projects in corporate sector to support adult employment
- Complete environmental scan(s) of available resources and develop navigation tools for families
- Make I-CAN the “go-to” entity for policy makers – like INSAR or Autism Speaks
- Social media presence
- Research mentoring; could be modelled on Canada’s National Autism Research Training Program”
- Presentation to IAP/IPS as preconference workshop
August 2019 – Run for Autism Awareness; Airtel Marathon 2019
As part of our vision DFGC kickstarted its awareness program by participating in the Airtel Marathon Run. This is the first Awareness event organised by DFGC. 450 participants from Divi’s Laboratories and Fernandez Hospitals ran the 5km, 10km, half marathon and full marathon in order to raise awareness for Autism. Many of the participants were questioned during the run “What is Autism?” This laid a platform for the planning of the upcoming events in 2020.
January 2017 - Dr. Anthony Bailey’s Workshop in Hyderabad
Dr. Bailey is the Professor and Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UBC in July 2010. He came from the University of Oxford where he was the Cheryl and Reece Scott Chair of Psychiatry, the first medical chair devoted to the study of autism. Dr. Anthony Bailey’s clinical work focuses on teenagers and able adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Bailey’s research has investigated the neurobiological basis of autistic disorders, using genetic, neuropathological and neuroimaging approaches. Until his move to Canada, Dr. Bailey coordinated the International Molecular Genetic Study of Autism Consortium: a large international team of clinicians and scientists brought together to identify susceptibility genes for autism.
Dr. Bailey conducted a two day workshop in Hyderabad during his visit in January 2017. He did a one-day training program for the therapists at the centre. On the second day DFGC along with Twin Cities Branch of Indian Academy of Pediatrics invited Dr. Bailey to give a talk on Autism and its possible detection of early signs. First signs of autism usually appear before the child reaches the age of two years. Early Intervention is the key to improving the child’s quality of life.