Autism awareness is still low, opine experts

By Express News Service

Autism, compared to other disabilities, remain under the radar, and needs efforts for early identification and screening, said former commissioner for disability in Karnataka, VS Basavaraj. For Autism Awareness Month this year, 15 NGOs collaborated for a cultural event on Wednesday at Bal Bhavan in Cubbon Park to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction and behaviour, characterised by repetitive actions and issues with socialising. 

Ruby Singh, vice-president, of the Autism Society of India, said one in 60 people in Karnataka is said to suffer from autism, and the number is growing on a daily basis. Since it has no permanent cure, the focus is to detect children with autism at an early stage when there is better scope to train them, than identifying them when they are older. 

Usually, a child with autism starts showing symptoms within 15-18 months after birth — behaviour issues, irritability, no eye contact while talking, and late responses are seen at an early stage. 

Awareness is needed to ensure that parents can also spot the symptoms which help them diagnose their children as autistic, and provide them with necessary therapy and training, Basavaraj said. 

Government intervention is needed to screen children for autism and train paediatric doctors to critically observe them. Lack of skills among people working in a government setup is a major reason why the rate of identification is low, he added.  

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