“My child has autism,” to accept this fact and bravely face the society is the toughest battle for parents. It is never easy for any parent to accept that their child is challenged with autism. Many even haven’t heard about autism. For most parents it is unbelievable, totally unacceptable and a shattering truth. Each child is special and brings a world of happiness to everyone. But, to know that your child is differently-abled is tough.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition in which the child finds it difficult to relate and communicate with others. Autistic people perceive the world differently. Taking part in social life becomes challenging for autistic people and they have repetitive behaviour.
As we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April, it has become necessary to understand the fact that early intervention is important. As early as parents accept that their child has autism, the better it is for the child’s development. It is a condition that gets evident by the age of three.
Each autistic person needs different levels of intervention and support. Some have learning disabilities, which makes it challenging for them to cope with studies at school or even wash themselves. It might happen that someone might be fairly independent while others may require lifelong support. But, with early intervention and right kind of support, they do learn and develop.
New Horizons based in Mumbai conducted a study in 2015, which proved that the condition of children with autism can improve. New Horizons is a centre focused at multi-disciplinary child development. But, one needs to keep in mind that early intervention is imperative.
The time period for improvement and the kind of intervention differs for each child. A child with Autism Spectrum Disorder will find it difficult to understand gestures and use them. Also, expressing affection is challenging for them. Coping with speech is not easy either.
The biggest difficulty for autistic people and their family is the social stigma attached to it. But, things have changed for better due to the selfless contribution of a handful of people working towards spreading awareness about autism.
Society perceived autistic people as mentally ill and dangerous to others. Now they are known as differently-abled individuals.
One such person who has tirelessly worked towards the cause is Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy who founded Ummeed Child Development Center. I worked with her a few years back and truly admire her determination and focus. She studied post graduation in Paediatrics in Delhi and moved to the US. While she worked in Boston she realized the lack of resources in India for children with developmental disabilities. Thus, Dr. Vibha made a bold decision of returning back to India in 1998 and founded Ummeed Child Development Center in 2001 with the help of her husband Ashish Karamchandani.
Some other organizations in India that work for the cause of autism are:
- Prasanna Autism Centre, Pune
- Aarambh Autism Centre, Aurangabad
- Assam Autism Foundation, Assam
- Utkarsh, Patna
- Vatsalyam, Chennai
- Prafull Oorja, Bengaluru
- Communication DEALL has branches all over India
- Action for Autism, Delhi
Let us contribute to the cause too by discussing with the people about autism and spreading awareness about it. You never know a small piece of information may help someone who is looking for a solution and support to change someone’s life. Compassion is what everyone desires, and it takes nothing!