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Autism in India (Statistics, treatments, lack of awareness)
  12 Jun'2020

Awareness is basic and one of the most important steps to tackle a difficult situation. So, on 2nd April, World Autism Day is observed to make people aware of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Once, a survey was conducted to assess autism awareness in India & USA. It results in only 12.6% of participants in India had heard of ASD. The survey suggests that lower reported cases of autism in India are likely due to a lack of awareness rather than lower prevalence.

What is Autism? Know more about its Sign & Symptoms 

If a kid suffers from Autism, the signs of social awkwardness and unruly behavior become common. Presently, in India, of every 500 people, 1 person is diagnosed with this disease, which is about 0.2% of the entire population. The Rehabilitation Council of India tells us that, there are about 21.6 lakh people are suffering from Autism.
Often, we see that kids develop developmental disorders which become quite prominent before he is 3 years old. If the kid shows signs of communication deficits, he has underdeveloped mutual social interactions, rough and rude behavior, and limited interest in things around him, it can be the symptoms of Autism. The symptoms can come and go on varying levels, so it is known as a spectrum disorder, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or simply Autism.

The evolution of "Autism in India" as a diagnosis

In the year of 1959, “autism” was first mentioned in the Indian literature. This started a trend in the 1960s, which saw various publications writing about this disorder. In the early stages, it was normal that people knew truly little about this disorder, which is only normal. When the 1980s came, did the level of awareness among the Autism Society of India started to increase. This decade saw a focused rise regarding a study about Autism which was followed by understanding the disease better and the development of technology. Autism Indian pediatrics gained more knowledge about it and Autism Diagnosis in India improved, the common folks learned more about it, the parents of the suffering people became more aware of it. The training options began to increase and thus it led to an improvement in the laws which help such people.
The executive director of INCLEN Trust International, Narendra Arora led a study across India that found out that, among every 100 children under the age of 10, 1 has Autism and among every 8 kids, 1 kid suffers from a neurodevelopmental condition. The study found that the reports according to the census of 2011 were grossly wrong. The cases on the ground were 10 times more than the 1.3% that was mentioned. Narendra Arora said, “That [was] a gross underestimation, this [new estimate] requires public health action.”
Arora and his partners spread out to five different places in India, which differed from each other culturally and socially and did door to door research. It was found that hearing problems and intellectual disabilities were most common. Autism in Indian babies is widespread with one kid among every five has a neurodevelopmental condition and plenty have a second. This was the result of studying more than 2000 children from ages 2 to 5 and about another 2000 kids from the age of 6 to 9. Arora said, “This is the first-ever community-based assessment of the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders in children in India, and probably in the whole of the developing world.” This was a breakthrough in Autism in India statistics 2019. The team used a free test, known as INDT-ASD, which they particularly made to be used in countries with low resources and diagnosed that 44 children have Autism.

WHO Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders

According to the World Health Organisation, among every 160 children, one has ASD. This evaluation is based on an average figure which significantly varies across various studies. Although, some well organized have said that the ground reality is much more horrific. The proper number of children suffering from ASD is unknown in the underdeveloped and developing nations. This hugely interferes with Autism Statistics worldwide in 2019.

WHO has been working hard to work together with various organizations to promote treatment

1. Improving the work ethics and obligations of officials, both local and international bodies on treating Autism,

2. Provides proper guidelines, makes policies and lays down plans to address the ASD,

3. Develops effective strategies and achievable targets for assessment and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder and other neurological disorders.

Autism Society of India promotes treatment and several therapies like:

• Cognitive behavior therapy
• Behavioural management therapy
• Occupational therapy
• Social skills training
• Physical therapy
• Educational and school-based therapies
• Medication treatment
• Nutritional therapy
• Joint attention therapy
• Early intervention
• Speech-language therapy
• Parent-mediated therapy

Conclusion

Due to a lack of awareness, there is a huge data gap in the actual cases of ASD and the number which is reported. Various studies suggest that due to the prevalent limitations in our society forces a lot of malnourished and children suffering from disorder go unnoticed. Another study said that “the scarcity of high-quality population-based epidemiological studies on ASD in India highlights an urgent need to study the burden of ASD in India. The proper acquisition of data related to the prevailing burden of ASD in India would lead to better development of rehabilitative services in our country.”
The availability of modern and developed services for people suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders is a must as it is important for the wellbeing of the patients and their families. In a society in which we live in, which still considers mental disorders as taboos and professionals who lack proper knowledge and expertise, has lots of improvement ahead of them.
Narayan Seva Sansthan takes care of people with various kinds of disabilities, from mental disorders to physically challenged. Whoever comes in search of help, is never turned away. They provide everyone with proper treatment and an opportunity to have a better life. NSS has started schools for the poor and underprivileged kids, it is stepping forward for the various autism school in India.

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