MUMBAI: In India, autism has a single storyline: parent, parent, parent. And, it’ll stay that way until India has an adequate number of specialists and facilities to help families fight the disorder.....
The situation in India is no less alarming. “There are about 4 million autistic people in India today,” says Merry Barua, founder-director of the Delhi-based Action for Autism.
Dr Vibha Krishnamurthy, director of the Mumbai-based Ummeed, which works with children with developmental disabilities, has also noticed a rise in autistic cases in Mumbai. “Five years ago, I would treat about three cases a week. Today, it’s increased to five. We think India’s four million cases is a small figure since autism is highly underreported here.”
Dr Leo Rebello, director of the Mumbai-based Natural Health Centre, believes we are looking at the tip of the iceberg. In a research paper, he says autism cases have risen dramatically.
“They were 17.40 lakhs in 2005, 40 lakhs in 2006, and today, the autism-affected population in India would be close to a crore.”
Other doctors too see a sharp rise. Dr Anjali Joshi, an occupational therapist at KEM Hospital, says autism cases have jumped in the last two decades.
“I would hardly see one autistic child in six months those days; now, I treat at least two kids per week.” Points out Dr Anahita Hegde, a neurologist at Jaslok Hospital: “I would see one-two cases a month 10 years ago; today I see 20 fresh cases a month.