World Autism Awareness Day: India needs early detection of autism, more special educators

World Autism Awareness Day: India needs early detection of autism, more special educators

There are parent support groups which help the parents come together and work on similar issues.

Sherine RajUpdated: Sunday, April 02, 2023, 08:51 PM IST
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Mumbai: To mark the ‘World Autism Awareness Day’ on April 2, a set of panelists in Mumbai held a discussion on the collective approach for the inclusion and awareness of people with autism in India which was attended by more than 1,000 people virtually.

The panelists discussed the importance of early detection, proper therapy, need of more special educators, training of parents along with the children.

The discussion was hosted by Tata Power to bring together educators, parents, NGOs, journalists and people in general who could benefit from the experience and guidance of the panelists to collectively spread awareness.

A huge number of autism cases in India

One of the panelists, Sugandha Sukrutaraj, said that the number of autism cases in our country is huge but the special educators to help them are very few. “In some countries there is one special educator paired up with one child each, but here in India it’s a big luxury.”

According to Sukrutaraj, many times the special educators go abroad for higher studies and never return. “We need more people to come ahead and help out, due to which we have also started ‘peer driven educators’ in which the trained autistic kids teach other educators without theory and only with visual learning through computers.”

Another panelist, Chitra Iyer, a mother of an autistic kid who also runs a forum that supports other parents, said that the parents must realise the differences in the communication and behaviour of their child from early on. “In India, we are now able to diagnose autism even under 2 years of age. This early detection helps in increasing the chances for the child to undergo proper therapy and be able to communicate better.”

Support groups help parents to come together

There are parent support groups which help the parents come together and work on similar issues. “These groups are so important for the parents because they spend the most amount of time with the child and have to work very hard. They come together and share their problems, get solutions and also vent out any issues which they are facing. In many cases there are in-laws or husbands who don’t accept the fact that the child is autistic, at such times the single parent takes up the entire responsibility of the child’s development,” Iyer said.

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