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Autism is not a disease Editorial Stock Image

Experts believe that autism presents itself in the first 3 years. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting communication and social interaction skills. The exact cause of autism is not known though recent research indicates that it could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.Dr Kunjal Upadhyay, who is working on autism said, There are no medical tests for its diagnosis and it gets more difficult in India to get one. When Shalini took her daughter to paediatricians for regular check ups, she was assured that Sapna is just 'slow'. Dissatisfied, she went to a psychologist who said that her child is mentally subnormal. It was only after she visited King George Medical College in Lucknow that she got to know that Sapna is autistic. Dr Vinod Kumar Goyal, head of Autism Society of India, stresses on the need of doctors to be more sensitive while dealing with autism. Usually doctors certify the affected child as mentally retarded or schizophrenic which is not the case with autistic persons. There is a different set of symptoms for autism and they should be treated accordingly, said Dr Goyal who deals with at least 15 cases of Autism every month. Experts estimate that every 2-6 children out of every 1000 have Autism. The prevalence rate of autism in India is 1 in 250 (figure may vary as many cases are not diagnosed) and currently 10 million people are suffering in India. The government only recognized the disorder in 2001, till 1980s, there were reports that Autism didn't exist in India. Persons with autism were until recently treated as mentally retarded by government in case of grant of concessions and benefits but not all the persons with autism are mentally retarded. Manju Singh, soft skills trainer who has been working in this field for many years said, Till recently Autism was incurable, though there were some improvements in affected people through various therapies like art therapy. Dr Goyal says that Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Dietary therapy help autistic kids.TMS involves giving mild electric currents to autistic person to increase their blood flow whereas dietary therapy is used to provide special supplements to autistic people as they are averse to eating in general.Free diagnosis camp On the occasion of sixth world autism day, Autism Society of India has organized free consultation camp in Vastrapur at Parth Hospital. There will also be free psychological tests for those affected. Every Sunday this month, Autism Society of India will hold free consultations. Tanay Foundation, B M Institute, Blue Rose School and Navjeevan Training Center have also organized awareness programmes. What is Autism? Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests in children by the age of three. The degree may vary from mild to very severe and is hence it is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Government of India now recognizes autism as a disability. Symptoms of Autism: Autistic children can hear, see and feel yet have difficulty in understanding and expressing what their senses tell them. Skills that a normal child picks up naturally have to be taught to children with autism.

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