Recently, a 12-year-old Maharashtra girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) successfully swam across the Arabian Sea from Bandra-Worli Sea Link to Gateway of India in Mumbai.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Key Points

  • About:
    • ASD refers to a range of conditions characterized by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively.
    • It is a complex brain development disability that makes itself visible during the first 3 years of a person’s life.
    • It is not mental retardation as people with autism may show excellent skills in spheres like art, music, writing etc. The level of intellectual functioning in individuals with ASDs is extremely variable, extending from profound impairment to superior levels.
  • Causes:
    • There are probably many factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental and genetic factors.
  • Signs and Symptoms:
    • Difficulty with social communication and interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors.
  • Cure:
    • Although autism is not curable, its symptoms can be addressed with appropriate interventions like evidence-based psychosocial interventions, behavioral treatment, and skills training programs for parents and other caregivers, health promotion, care, rehabilitation services, etc.
  • Global & National Initiatives to Raise Awareness on ASD:
    • United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Sustainable Development Goals deal with the rights of people with disabilities including autism.
    • The Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 increased the types of disabilities from 7 to 21. It also added autism spectrum disorder among others, which were largely ignored in the earlier Acts.
    • In 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a resolution entitled “Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders (ASD),” which was supported by more than 60 countries.

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day.

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