On February 3 2017, Dr. Jasmina Troshanska, ESIPP partner and Vice-President of the Macedonian Scientific Society, was invited to participate on the live TV show “Hello Macedonia” on Kanal 5, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about autism. She also invited parents of children and young people on the autism spectrum to attend the third round of parent training sessions between the 22 and the 26 February in Skopje (FYR of Macedonia) in the framework of the European project ESIPP.
Dr. Troshanska underlined the lack of information and knowledge in Macedonian society regarding autism and highlighted the importance of actions such as the ESIPP project to raise awareness and support parents of children and young people on the autism spectrum. Dr. Troshanska introduced the ESIPP Parent Education Programme to viewers and emphasised that parents must apply “positive approaches to autism since they are crucial in the treatment of their children”.
TV show “Hello Macedonia”: What happens with parents from Macedonia? Does anyone offer them help?
Jasmina Troshanska: No, there is no family counselling for parents and there is no training for them. No one tells them what to do and what not to do with their autistic child.
Recently the Macedonian Scientific Society started to work on a very good project called “Equity and Social Inclusion through Positive Parenting”. It is an Erasmus + project between organisations and faculties from the UK, Belgium, Croatia, Macedonia and Cyprus. Parents must apply positive approaches in relation to their children. They are crucial in their treatment. A child might meet with any number of different professionals and could be great with them, but if the parents at home can’t cope with the child, all the benefits from the treatments and professionals mean very little. Parents need peace at home, and a better quality of life.
TV: Anyone who is not involved in this issue professionally, might behave erratically and possibly inadequately when they meet a child with autism. Why is that?
JT: Yes, when mother goes to a playground with her child with autism, the people there – other mothers, fathers or grandparents – start to whisper among themselves. They look strangely at the child and the mother. This is because they are wondering what’s happening with the child, maybe they are afraid, some are empathic and they feel sorry for them, some might think that maybe children with autism are aggressive… It happens because of lack of information and because of a lack of knowledge. Fear of the unknown. Parents of children with autism should be bolder and familiarise the public with their difficulties.
TV: Very often people ask you whether children get autism from vaccines. What is your answer?
JT: My honest answer is that I was not afraid at all when I was vaccinating my children. The media sometimes print breaking headlines about vaccines because it generates interest and sells newspapers.
My suggestion is that if someone is afraid, he or she should ask a doctor (immunologist, paediatrician etc.) instead of consulting Facebook. We should trust doctors in the same way that we would trust a mechanic who fixes our car. Doctors have devoted part of their life to becoming professionals and they have sworn to help people.
Autism existed long before the use of vaccines.
TV: Another question you are often asked is whether autism is a disease.
JT: No, it is not. It is condition that may have originated from some disease: premature birth, brain injury during and after childbirth, lack of oxygen, metabolic disorders, fever, etc. Sometimes, in children with autism, biological reasons can be found, but sometimes not. I hope that in the future science will be able to pinpoint the causes of this condition. Often it has a genetic basis, which does not necessarily mean that it is hereditary. But it may come from a new genetic change.