Islamabad: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.
According to the Autism Society of Pakistan, there is no reliable data to estimate the occurrence of autism in Pakistan, but some estimates put them at 350,000 children with autism in Pakistan. They are not easily identifiable as it is not a physical disease that can be diagnosed by tests easily. But in the USA the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with ASD. So Pakistan should take it as matter of serious concern as well.
The theme for World Autism Awareness Day this year is “The Transition to Adulthood”.
Ms. Haleema Sadia (Autism Specialist, Shifa International Hospital) shared that these children are more prone to catch infections so we need to take special care of children with ASD during this pandemic. Self-isolation and social distancing can be challenging to people with autism who depend on support, therefore extra care should be provided to deal with Autistic people.
Speaking about Autism Spectrum Disorder, Ms. Faiza Badar (Manager Rehabilitation Department, SIH) and Mr. Kashif Khan (AGM Rehabilitation Department, SIH) emphasized the need for an early diagnosis and management through therapies which can bring visible improvement in children with said diagnosis. They further highlighted importance of promoting equality, inclusion and playing role in enabling persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder to exercise their rights and freedom.