There is no government data available on the number of autistic patients in India.
Autism Society of India (ASI) say it is difficult to identify children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in India due to a lack of awareness and unavailability of government data.
Under the Right of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016, “responsibility has been casted upon the appropriate governments to take effective measures to ensure that persons with disabilities (including ASD) enjoy their rights equally with others.
Nishanth Krimani Ali, General Secretary, Autism Society of India (ASI), said, “It’s chaotic to come to a number of cases of children with autism in India, specifically looking at the rural areas. First of all, we don’t have collective data of children getting diagnosed. Secondly, not all cases get reported.”
A report by the Spectrum Research Institute for Autism showed that one in every 100 children under the age of 10 in India has autism. There are five different types of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and it is the third most common disorder.
Radhika, a parent of an autistic child, said, “We found out when he was one and a half years old. I was rejected in a park in HSR third sector and asked, “Why do you bring such a child outside?” We pay double the school fees for resource classes. Also, there is no insurance. If an autistic child goes to the hospital, we can’t claim the insurance money.”
“Autism is a condition based on the child’s behavior. There is a need for early intervention. It helps in channelizing the behavior of the children. In case intervention happens late, a child already establishes an undesired behavior. Because of this, a child who could have the mildest of symptoms, if not diagnosed on time, can become severe in due course of time.” Santhi Karamcheti, Special Educator, said.
She also added, “Due to the lack of special schools, students actually go to mainstream schools, and what happens is a students with a severe or moderate stage of ASD is asked to leave the school because they need special attention.”
Neurology India said there is an urgent need to study the burden of Autism Spectrum Disorder in India.