Moving Forward with Autism

Heydar Isayev

Ulkar Rahmanova is an endocrinologist by profession. Three years ago she and her family decided to extend her profession by getting another degree -  Applied Behavioral Analytics. Rahmanova got the degree and became a psychologist specialized in working with people with disabilities. All was primarily for one reason – she has a kid with autism.

Rafael, 12-year-old son of Rahmanov’s, was diagnosed with autism ever since he was born. Today his mother takes him to school every day and works with him on his assignments. Rafael is not so much interested in school lessons; thus, he spends most of the time at home watching videos on laptop and phone. He rarely acts out.

Improving Rafael’s conditions cost the family a lot, says Ulkar Rahmanova. They visited doctors in Turkey, Iran and Ukraine when Rafael was little. But Rahmanova believes that the most important factor for improvement is medical approach. “Today the mainstream medicine regards autism as a way of diversity, not as a disease. Thus, they apply psychological approach only. But first there should be a medical approach,” she explains.

One method of medical approach is diet, according to Rahmanova. She says they went ahead a long way because they kept Rafael in diet. “People with autism should have their own food, produced for people with diabetics. Sugar affects their behavior a lot. If he eats sweet now, he will act out in an hour,” she tells me.

Ahmad Rahmanov is Rafael’s father. He also has a disability, and he is working for an NGO focusing on families with the disabled children. He remembers that once he helped a family with a kid with autism after he came across them on a bus. “The kid was acting out. I asked the mom, “Do you often use diapers?” She said yes. I said my wife is doctor and invited them to our house. They came, and my wife just told them for the kid what to eat and what not to. After a month, they called me and said the kid is going to a toilet. This was a revolution for them.”

Today Rahmanov’s continue working with Rafael on his diet, lessons, and games. They say everything they have done for him is not enough as he still needs a person beside him to be guided. Now they are worried about the future, as to how he will manage his life after his parents are gone.