Blue is in the Air-World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD)
I wouldn’t say go out of your way and treat people different because we’re all people at the end of the day. If you’re a nice person just be nice to everyone – Niall Aslam.
People with Autism however, are still looking upto the world that is fair, just and respects them for the people they are!
With that intent of creating more awareness and bring to spotlight the difficulties and challenges that people with autism face every day, the United Nations marked 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day.
Generically, people believe Autism or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to be a developmental disability but Autism actually is a broader range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. ASD impacts the nervous system and affects the overall cognitive, emotional, social and physical health of the affected individual.
The impact of Autism isn’t only on the person affected with it but is has a huge impact of the family to has to tend to their specific needs. It also has direct and indirect implications on the nation that are incurred in providing health care, support for education, and rehabilitative services. Currently, one in 500 people are diagnosed with autism in India, which translates to 0.2 percent of the population, or 21.6 lakh individuals according to the Rehabilitation Council of India. However, these numbers could only be scratching the surface as many still shy away from declaring Autism due to social taboos.
So, what causes Autism? While a lot of research has been done, there isn’t a single cause that has been identified but studies revealed that Autism is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Researchers continue to study and investigate more about ASD and find the triggers that causes autism to develop.
World Autism Awareness Day is a day for us to be cognizant about those living with Autism, understand their needs and learn how can we, as a society, support them. It aims to bring them to the social forefront, get access to equal opportunities and embrace their stories of struggles and achievements.
At present in India, there are more than 40 organisations, special schools, parent support groups, and speech as well as behavioural therapy centres to help bring positive behavioural change – like Behaviour Momentum of India, Autism Centre of Excellence and Assisted living for Autistic Adults. However, they are too few and those dealing with Autism are many. Therefore, the buck stops at us – how do we in our own capacities (as individuals, families, societies and organisations) support people with autism? The answer is neither simple nor easy. It will be through involvement with organisations supporting them, building assistive technologies, providing reasonable support and opening employment opportunities. So, to make a start this World Autism Awareness Day, let’s take the pledge to curb the inequality that they face, inaccessibility to opportunities and help them realise their rights.