Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a serious neurodevelopment condition, which results in impaired speech, communication, cognition, behaviour & sensory processing, in children. The spectrum includes symptoms like poor eye contact, self-stimulatory behaviours such as stereotypical movements, echolalia, unusual sounds, etc, along with lack of proper communication skills. Some children may also show signs of intellectual delay. These symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder begin to show quite early during the child’s development.
As Autism Spectrum Disorder is also linked with other developmental disorders it continues to be a prominent health concern. Since a large portion of the Indian population is below 20 years of age, a survey was conducted in select areas (tribal, rural, and urban), to estimate the prevalence of ASD among them. Narendra Arora, Executive Director of the INCLEN Trust International led the study along with his team of doctors. Their study on Autism Spectrum Disorders was focused on children across various socio-economic landscapes in India. They did a door-to-door evaluation amongst five different regions and conducted a screening on around 3964 children aged between 2 to 9 years with an INDT-ASD device. They found that the occurrence of neurodevelopment conditions differed with the region. The rate was drastically low in tribal areas while in large urban sections, the prevalence of Autism was approximately 1.8 per cent.
Numerous organisations are doing commendable work by catering to the needs of the adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder across the country. They also help create much-needed awareness and encourage parents of these children to come forward and share their experiences. They provide information about different approaches to treating ASD, such as Speech Therapy, Music Therapy and various life skills that can help bring about a behavioural change and secure a better & more inclusive future for these children. A common observation in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder has been that an early intervention would go leaps & bounds in reducing its prevalence in India & across the world.