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World Autism Awareness Day: Let’s Create an Autistic Inclusive Society

Today on World Autism Awareness Day, let us take cognisance of the uniqueness of the autistic individual and ponder that it’s okay to be different. Just like we celebrated Priyanka Chopra’s intriguing autistic character from the movie Barfi — Jhilmil with blurred speech, incompetence in social interaction, recurrence of words or actions, discomfort around strangers, assistance for simplest tasks. Let’s celebrate all autistic individuals.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental “disorder,” and refers to a broad range of condition characterized by difficulties in social interaction, impaired communication and language, repetitive behaviours, and a minuscule range of interests and activities which are distinctive to each and carried out repetitively but with unwavering passion. 

Things you must know about Autism: 

Not All People With Autism Are the Same

Autism is viewed as a “spectrum” disorder because it varies from person to person and said that no two individuals with autism have the same strengths or challenges. The spectrum comprises individuals from being entirely nonverbal in severe cases, to less severe Asperger’s syndrome, yet most struggle with social situations and complexity in interpreting the emotions and feelings of other people.

There are many co-occurring conditions demonstrated by an individual with ASD like depression, anxiety, epilepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As much as variety in the intellectual capabilities of the individuals, the independence of the person with ASD also varies while some can live independently, while others in severe cases, employ life-long care and support.

There is no known cause of autism

No one knows exactly what causes autism. Researchers believe “it may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Pregnancy complications and parental age may also increase risk.”

There’s no “Best” school for all children with autism

As each autistic individual is unique, the parent admits the autistic kids to the schools which best fit the needs of the autistic kid. 

Only in the year 1991, an initiative by parents with autistic children started the Action for Autism (AFA) initiative to aid people affected by the disorder. Later on, a league of organisations and schools sprang up in the country which includes Asha, Communication DEALL, Development Centre for Exceptional Children and Ashiana to name a few. It was only in the year 1994, that the first school for autism affected youth called Open Door, was established in India. Then in the late 1990s, the nation witnessed the establishment of 15 such schools with enrollment ranging from 5–70 students in each, according to a report published by the Rehabilitation Council of India.

People with autism have feelings and emotions

People with autism have feelings and they do express love in idiosyncratic ways. Most are also able to have close relationships, including romantic relationships.

There is no cure for autism

There is no known cure for autism. Autism is a lifelong diagnosis.

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, worldwide one in 160 children suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder. In India, one in 500 people is diagnosed with autism, which translates to 21.6 lakh individuals according to the Rehabilitation Council of India. In most cases, the signs of ASD become visible during the first 5 years of life and then continue with adolescence and adulthood. However, according to autismspeaks.org, the autism diagnosis age and intensity of autism’s early signs vary widely and not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don’t have autism show a few and that’s why professional evaluation is crucial.

World Autism Awareness Day 2021: Theme

Every year since 2012, the  World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated with a theme. For 2021, the theme is ‘Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World’.

World Autism Awareness Day 2021: History

April 2 was declared as World Autism Awareness Day by The United Nations General Assembly declared 2nd April World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can be rehabilitated to lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. The resolution to celebrate World Autism Day was passed by the United Nations General Assembly on November 1, 2007. And was adopted on December 18, 2007.

A society which has a discriminatory attitude towards autistic individuals and stigmatised them needs to introspect. Not only the society lacks the required support, health facilities and opportunities for them but also needs to create an inclusive environment for autistic individuals. 

The awareness day should not be just a one-day event to conduct conference and events, rather we must have regular discourse on autism. It can be done through regular school events, conferences and in general acceptance of autistic individuals. It will not change and rather will be just a one-day thing we dont celebrate and engage with autistic individuals on a regular basis. 

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