'Include autism in Disability Act'
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25 January 2010
Experts on autism say the Union government has not done enough to include people with this condition in the People With Disability Act, although the conservative prevalence of autism is put at one per one thousand live births in India.
Speaking during the ‘Autistic spectrum disorders symposium and workshop’ organised by the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Centre (DMHRC) here on Sunday, Jayshree Ramesh, founder trustee Academy for Severe Handicaps and Autism, Bengaluru, said it is high time that the government stopped looking at it as a low–incidence disorder.
Drawing attention to the government apathy in safeguarding the rights of children with autism, Ramesh said, “The efforts for inclusion of autism in the People with Disability Act started in 1995. It is 15 years now and yet the government has not given it due consideration.” She said the current Union minister of social justice and empowerment, Mukul Wasnik, has assured that autism will be included in the Disability Act in the upcoming budget session. “We hope that it will come through by the year end,” said Ramesh, who is also the founder secretary of Autism Society of India and member elect, board of trustees, the National Trust, New Delhi.
Ramesh said, “As per my estimates, special educators meant only for autistic children in India is not more than 200. There is need to start such courses at various centres of training and education to meet the huge demand.”
M V Ashok, professor of child psychiatry at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru, said, “The epidemiological study to assess the prevalence rate of autism has been initiated at Delhi, Bengaluru and Goa, a year ago.” Better identification methods have helped in detecting children with autism and made early interventions possible, he added.