Unmet needs of Autism in India
Autism is a Neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication & social interaction, language & behaviour. According to the latest study, 1 in about 70 children have autism. About 11914 cases are detected every year in India. Autism is a "spectrum" disorder as the symptoms exist along a continuum and may vary from mild to a severe degree.
Autism is primarily characterized by difficulties in communication & social interaction, difficulty in expressing feelings, unusual responses to sensory input such as oversensitivity to light, taste, sound. A Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have difficulty in relating to peers, responding to their name, have a poor eye to eye contact and may engage in repetitive behaviours.
For parents, accepting the diagnoses of Autism remains a challenge due to the stigma, a sense of helplessness and prognosis of the disorder and the lack of family & social support. As Dr Rajesh Kumar, Consultant Child Psychiatrist at Max Hospital and Founder and Director UDGAM – A Mental Health Care and Rehabilitation Centre, points out these are a significant barrier to the care of such affected children, like financial constraints, availability of professionals, lack of parental support and awareness.
We as social and responsible members of society should come forward and spread the awareness and sensitize the government and people, in this regard. Keeping these points in mind, a team of UDGAM, organized Awareness campaign at Kidszee School, Krishna Nagar, Delhi where the management, teachers, parents and children were sensitized on awareness of Autism.
Clinical Psychologist plays an important role in diagnosing, parent training and behavioural management of the disorder. According to Ms Ira Gupta, Clinical Psychologist, at UDGAM, early diagnosis & Intervention is the key. ASD can be diagnosed as early as 3 yrs of age after which the required interventions can be initialled which will, in turn, lead to enhancing the quality of life of both the child and the family.
As a Senior Special Educator Mr Rakesh Kumar, also believes that along with raising Autism awareness, one needs to along with, raise Autism Acceptance and Autism Inclusion, as well. Awareness is the first step in the process, which needs to be continued further with timely intervention with remedial support and special education Autistics everywhere, deserve to be heard, included, educated, and advocated for.
Senior Speech Therapist, Dr Murli Singh also talks about full participation and commitment with people with autism and that love is the best healer. They should be given natural opportunity or situations, to use their verbal skills. Continuous use of speech and language therapy would help them use their communication skills more effectively.