Teenagers may face myriad psychological roadblocks: Doctors

Mumbai: A three-day conference on autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) was hosted by the Ummeed Child Development Centre in collaboration with International Developmental Paediatrics Association Congress at Nehru Centre in Mumbai. The theme of the Mumbai 2017 Congress is ‘A World of Difference’.

“There are at least 50 million children in India under the age of 15 with or at risk of a developmental disability,” said experts in the conference. Developmental disorders like autism, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, are also a much-ignored subject and training opportunities for doctors or therapists hoping to work with children with developmental disabilities are extremely rare.

The experts from the various medical fields include paediatrics, family medicine, public health, child mental health, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, child development and education, early intervention, special education and social services. A senior doctor said that there are less than 100 trained developmental and behavioural paediatricians (DBPs) across India who can diagnose and help these children and their families. “There are one DBP per 5,00,000 children,” added doctor.

He further added that sharing of knowledge and best practices is a key to bridging the gap between resources available in high-income countries and low and middle income countries. Vibha Krishnamurthy the founder and Executive Director of Ummeed said “The Congress was a great to bring together professionals from all over the world to explore opportunities to empower people with disabilities. Over 500 people from 38 countries have gathered here to make a world of difference to child development and disability.”

Anindita Kumar, 16-year-old patient with cerebral palsy also spoke about her personal journey, experiences and challenges. She is currently the head girl of her school and an amateur drummer. Dr Scott Wright, professor in the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine he also has cerebral palsy. “How the Rough Beginning has influenced the ways that I lead’ made a lasting impact on the audience. Cerebral palsy has given a chip on my shoulder and driven me to excellence,” added Dr Wright.

The situation is similar, possibly worse, in other low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Several million children with developmental disabilities are unable to develop to their full potential unlike children in higher income countries, where screening and intervention for developmental delays are part of regular paediatrician visits and state funded services respectively.

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