- The Eighth World Autism
Awareness Day 2016 is celebrated on April 2nd
- The theme for this year is 'Inclusion and Neurodiversity'
- Autism is a developmental disorder which is growing in
numbers across the world
- Boys are 5 times more likely to get autism than girls
- 1 in 66 children in India has autism
The World Autism Awareness Day 2016 is the eighth time the day is celebrated to spread awareness about the developmental disorder that has no medical diagnosis nor does it have a cure. Autism
is a neurological disorder that affects a child within the first three years of its life.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message, "On this World Autism Awareness Day, I call for advancing the rights of individuals with autism and ensuring their full participation and inclusion as valued members of our diverse human family who can contribute to a future of dignity and opportunity for all."
The Theme for 2016: Inclusion and Neurodiversity
The delayed developmental stages and the aversion towards social interactions alienate people with autism. However, people with autism have unique skills that can enrich our society, which is the focus of
this year's awareness campaigns: to actively include people with autism in the society and to recognise the diversity in neurological development
‘Every autistic child has untapped skills to be honed by an inclusive society.’
with autism should be assured of the following in order to lead a stigma-free life.
- Quality Education: Special instructors may be required for people with autism.
- Right to Jobs and Economic Independence: Self-reliance will boost confidence and aid in better acceptance within society.
- Removal of Stigma: The stigma associated with autism should be removed to create a uniform platform for growth.
Autism is a Spectrum Disease
Autism is called a
spectrum disease as the symptoms associated with this disease can range
from being mild developmental delays to complex personality traits. A person
with autism does not develop skills age appropriately. For example, a child may
be 4 years of age, but may show language ability of a 2-year-old, and fine
motor skills of a 6-year-old.
individual with autism is different with different intellectual abilities. Many
of them exhibit highly advanced intellectual abilities, which would deem the
whole society at a loss if they are discriminated against.
neurological condition leads to varying effects, which need to be understood to
effectively support and include the individual in the society.
Effects of Autism
Autism affects the
child's ability in the areas of
- Interaction with
Autistic children may
seem perfectly happy playing alone with their toys, but
may turn extremely agitated amongst company, wrecking furniture or moving away
into isolation. They show an inbuilt inhibition towards communication and hate
International Clinical Epidemiology Network Trust found these following
statistics associated with India:
- More than 10
million children affected in India
- Between 1 to 1.5
percent autistic children are between the ages 2 to 9 in India
- The prevalence of
autism in India is 1 in 66
Causes of Autism
- Genetic Factors: Autism generally runs in the family with brothers or sisters affected. Though the cause of autism has been linked to genes, the exact gene responsible for autism hasn't yet been identified.
- Environmental Triggers: Apart from genetic factors, people with inherited faulty genes when exposed to certain environmental triggers could develop autism. The environmental triggers include premature birth, exposure to alcohol or medication like sodium valproate during pregnancy.
Brain scans of
children with autism have shown a change in the structure of the brain when
compared with controls.
Health Conditions Associated with Autism
- Infantile Spasms -These are seizures that occur during the first year of a child's life
- Down Syndrome - This condition is caused due to an additional copy of chromosome 21 and is associated with characteristic physical features and learning disability
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Neurofibromatosis (tumors on the nerve tissue)
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Rett Syndrome
- Congenital Rubella Syndrome
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Visual Impairment
Signs of Autism
Autism is difficult to
detect early on in life, but these signs are generally used to recognize developmental
18 to 24 Months
- Does not gaze out
- Prefers playing
or being alone
- The child could
be difficult to soothe
- Does not look for
comforting or being picked up by an adult
- No non-verbal
of 4 Years or Older
- The child shows
delayed language learning
- Is unable to
communicate basic needs and desires
- Does not like
being comforted, even when hurt
- The tone or
language used may be unusual
- May fail to greet
- Does not allow
others to take turns while playing
- Does not gaze
- Fears something
- Shows difficulty
in being toilet trained
- May show extreme
emotion towards inanimate objects
- May follow a
detailed procedure for certain tasks
- Does not show any
attachment with people
- May say strange
- May never
- Happy staying
uncomfortable in a social gathering
- Highly negative
towards physical expression of love
These symptoms are usually seen in autistic children, but these symptoms alone cannot be treated as sole signs of autism, as some characteristics may be exhibited by children
at the right developmental stage.
Turn the Lights
This World Autism Awareness Day 2016, people all over the world are requested to turn their lights blue to bring awareness to this developmental disorder. When people realize that children with autism react in a specific way as a result of symptoms of the condition, they will be more patient and empathetic towards the children. Managing autism
is about sharpening skill areas that the child has a natural inclination towards.
In India, there has been
concerted efforts to bring greater awareness towards this condition with a movie
like 'Taare Zameen Par' highlighting the plight of these children but bringing to the
fore their competitive intellectual ability.