The World Autism Day is observed on April 2, when we talk about the awareness about the disorder (autism spectrum disorder – ASD) and measures to battle it is quite low, especially in India.
According to a study by a top child neurologist at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), at least one in 89 children aged between two and nine years have been diagnosed with autism in India.
What is Autism?
It is an umbrella term for persons living with developmental disorders that impair communication—speaking, gesturing and listening—and make them have limited interests or repetitive behaviour. Diagnosis is still misunderstood very much, doctors say, and most parents in India do not have the resources or the support to bring up autistic children.
Research reports reveal that stress during pregnancy causes cancer. In a few cases, autistic behavior is caused by:
- Rubella (German measles) in the pregnant mother
- Tuberous sclerosis (a rare genetic disorder that causes benign tumors to grow in the brain as well as in other vital organs)
- Fragile X syndrome (the most common inherited form of intellectual disability)
- Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
- Untreated phenylketonuria (PKU) – when the body lacks an enzyme needed for normal metabolism
Symptoms and Treatment:
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized into three core areas
- social-interaction difficulties
- communication challenges
- tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.
Taken together, they may result in relatively mild challenges for someone on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. Each child or adult with autism is unique so, each autism intervention plan should be tailored to address specific needs. Intervention can involve behavioural treatments, medicines or both. Many individuals with autism have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Addressing these conditions can improve attention, learning and related behaviors.
Statistics: In India disease statistics have resulted as some were concerned by the potential for cumulative exposure to ethylmercury during the first 6 months of life that would exceed the EPA guideline for methylmercury, although the risk of neurodevelopmental effects due to thimerosal was thought to be small or nonexistent. In response to this concern, as a precautionary measures, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Public Health Service issued a joint statement in 1999 recommending the removal of thimerosal from vaccines. Before this recommendation, more than 30 US-licensed vaccines contained thimerosal as a preservative
Special Education, Sankalp reports, that the number of children in India diagnosed with autism has been on the rise with the ratio being about 1:100. Around 10 per cent of school-going children have been diagnosed with mild to severe learning challenges.
Study suggest that if the disorder is diagnosed early and children receive adequate help, then they can contribute to the society in some way or the other, they need not be dependent on others.