Pune: Doctors highlighted the need for more awareness and acceptance of children with Autism into the mainstream on World Autism Awareness Day, celebrated worldwide on April 2. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around one in 160 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, experts from the city noted that the number may be more for India.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Kishori Pathak, Head at the ‘Ab-Normal Home: Developmental center for special needs children’ said awareness regarding Autism is lacking. “Many parents think that the child is not Autistic and the phase is temporary, however, it not the case. It is important for the child to get proper therapy from the start so that the child can be included in the mainstream. Autism cannot be detected in some cases until the child is two or two and half year old,” said Pathak.
She said that the reason for Autism is still unknown. “However, is is observed that an Autistic child is seen to have more inclination towards music. But there is no scientific proof related to this,” said Pathak. She also said that the prevalence of Austim may have increased.
Echoing similar sentiments, Pankaj Mithbhakre, Clinical Psychologist and founder of ‘Ab-Normal Home: Developmental center for special needs children’ noted that there is a possibility that the cause of Autism can be due to intake of antibiotics and changing food habits.
“However, it is not proven yet. But the prevalence has increased for sure. Unlike cerebral palsy, Autism cannot be detected in the womb. Only physical activities can help us detect if the child has Autism. Hence, awareness is very important,” Mithbhakre further added.
Sharing similar sentiments, Meenakshi Kamble, Manager and occupational therapist at the District Early Intervention Center (DEIC) said that therapists try to make these children open up to the environment.
“Autistic children are engrossed into themselves. We use various techniques to make them open up to the environment and people around them. In 80 per cent cases, children improve through therapy when it is started as early as possible,” said Kamble.
Rujuta Mahajan, psychologist, said that we have been taught to see autism as limiting and dysfunctional. “Working with autistic children demanded that I should put everything I have learnt aside and to be receptive to a totally new world. What makes us think that autism is a wrongness or a disability. What if autism is a completely different way of functioning? What can we learn from the autistic way of functioning?
Perhaps, a little introspection and reflection could bring us closer to understanding autism and receiving the gift autistic people behold for us,” said Mahajan.