Breaking Barriers: An Interview with Archana Pokharel Rimal

Health Jun 13, 2024

In the heart of Biratnagar, at the Oil Nigam, lies a beacon of hope for children with autism and their families. Anmol Special Education Center, founded by Archana Pokharel Rimal, has been dedicated to providing specialized education and therapies to children with autism for nearly six years. Archana's journey in the field of autism is deeply personal and profoundly impactful, as she is not only the founder and director of the center but also a psychologist, educator, and trainer committed to making a difference.

Archana's path to becoming a leading figure in autism care in Nepal is rooted in her own family's experience. She recounted how facing autism within her family led her to seek answers and solutions, a quest that took her to Australia. There, she immersed herself in autism research and training, determined to bring back knowledge and expertise to her home country. Upon returning to Nepal, Archana and her husband, Dr. Hem Sagar Rimal, felt a pressing need to raise awareness about autism. They started by counseling parents, but soon realized that this was not enough. They needed to provide comprehensive therapy and education to make a significant impact. This realization led to the founding of Anmol Special Education Center in 2018, aimed at fostering skill development in children with autism and raising societal awareness about the condition.

At Anmol Special Education Center, a holistic approach is employed to cater to the diverse needs of children with autism. The center provides a range of specialized treatments including special education, occupational therapy, social skills training, sensory integration therapy, and communication training, which encompasses speech and fine motor skills. These therapies are designed to enhance social skills and address behavioral issues through behavior therapy, making a real difference in the lives of the children they serve.

In a world increasingly interconnected by technology, Anmol Special Education Center extends its reach beyond Nepal's borders. Archana proudly shared that they offer online counseling to parents both inside and outside Nepal, including those in Germany, Dubai, and England. This global approach ensures that families everywhere can benefit from the center's expertise, making it a vital resource for parents seeking support and guidance.

Handling critical situations with care and precision is crucial in autism therapy. Archana provided a compelling example of how her team manages such scenarios. She explained that children with autism often have sensory issues, either needing more sensation or none at all. If not addressed, these issues can escalate to behavioral problems. To manage such situations, her team has devised a pre-planned strategy, including the use of a special safe room filled with sponge to prevent self-harm. This proactive approach ensures that even in emergencies, children are safe and cared for, highlighting the preparedness and dedication of her team.

In today's digital age, social media plays a vital role in outreach and communication. Archana noted that they are active on Facebook, where people can connect with them and find their contact information. The center also shares parents' testimonials on their website, showcasing the success of their therapies and fostering a sense of community and trust. These testimonials are a powerful tool in spreading awareness about the center's effective therapy strategies and the positive impact they have on children's lives.

Archana's insights into autism are both enlightening and hopeful. She emphasized that autism is not a disaster but a condition that can be managed with proper care and understanding. Despite ongoing research, the exact causes of autism remain elusive, though biological and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Archana also warned against "virtual autism," a condition that can arise from excessive screen time and lack of environmental interaction. She stressed the importance of children engaging with their surroundings and learning through direct experiences, rather than becoming overly dependent on digital devices.

Archana Pokharel Rimal's dedication to autism care and awareness through Anmol Special Education Center is a testament to her passion and commitment. By offering specialized therapies, expanding her reach through online counseling, and actively spreading awareness, she continues to make a significant impact on the lives of children with autism and their families. Her journey and insights inspire us to view autism through a lens of compassion, understanding, and proactive support, reminding us that with the right care and dedication, we can break barriers and create a more inclusive society for all.