Autism is primarily classed as a neuro-development disorder that leads to communication barriers. Though the high incidence in NRI children is a fact unanimously acknowledged by the experts, they are divided over the factors responsible for the rising cases of autism As such, the extent to which environmental factors such as under-stimulation causes or contributes to it is open to debate and further research. It is known to affect 1 in 1,000 kids in the country, with 30% of the reported cases include the NRIs.
While one group indicate it on the alien social set-up that NRI kids grow up without receiving proper support to develop their communication skills, the other group credits it to the higher level of awareness about the disease that their parents enjoy.
According to Dr. Anitha, clinical psychologist, Citizens Hospital, Hyderabad "It has been noticed that NRI parents, if both are working, have minimum exposure to other people around and they often involve themselves in gadgets besides remaining immersed in their work. Even if appointed care givers take care of the physical needs of the children, there is a huge gap of communication created with the kid".
Dr. Srinivas, who practiced for three years in the USA, is also a consultant neuro-psychiatrist, Maxcure Hospitals said that effectiveness of treatment would be hampered if their condition is not diagnosed and treated through behavioral, speech and occupational therapies starts before they turn six and will end up becoming socially inept and poor motor skills when they enter in their teen.
In fact, the autistic behavior is also likely if working parents leave the children in crèche or preschools but there is no interaction and socializing with other kids. "Even if the child is placed in a crèche, the parents must ensure that there is enough socializing with other kids to check autistic behaviour," said Dr Anjul Dayal, pediatrics intensivist, Continental hospital. But, delay in detecting such behaviors comes at a cost as autistic children who don't get treated before age six falls into the abyss.
The US Center for Disease Control has a website on Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A few things they suggest that children or adults with ASD might include - not point at objects to show interest, have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings, appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds, lose skills they once had, not playing games, etc. There’s no medical test, like a blood test, that diagnoses ASD. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. Incidentally, April is celebrated as the National Autism Awareness month in the US.