Around one in every 89 children, aged between two to nine years, have autism spectrum disorder in India. Based on the census data of 2011, this means that 2.2 million children of that age group are affected with autism. If extrapolated, this means that nearly 13 million people live with the condition in India.
Unfortunately, in India, there’s a stigma attached to autism. People should understand that an early diagnosis is most important. This helps in starting the therapeutic measures as early as possible and a child with autism, after becoming an adult, can make positive contributions to the society. If a child doesn’t smile, or look at playthings being shown, or respond to their names, then these could be the first signs of autism.
If a baby’s speech is delayed, grandparents and parents usually cite examples in the family where children were slower to pick up words. However, this is often not correct. Sometimes parents ignore these indications and take their child to the doctor when they are five or six years of age. This causes delayed diagnosis and not much can be done to help a child with autism. Early intervention helps children lead neuro-typical lives to a great extent.
What causes autism is still unknown. But it’s largely believed that genetic factors have a major role to play. Boys are at least 4.5 times more likely to have autism spectrum disorder than girls.
Autism risk increases if a family already has one child on the spectrum. The risk of the second child being born with the disorder increases by seven percent.