Autism Spectrum Disorder: India versus the West

Autism spectrum disorder is not uncommon. In fact, it’s the third most common development disorder in the world. International studies have revealed that one in every 68 people in the world have autism. The overall occurrence is largely uniform across the globe, which means that over 18 million people have autism in India. Autism is found more commonly in boys than girls.

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Many countries in the West have fully sponsored autism programs. Subsidies are also offered in speech and occupational therapies, special schools, and social skills groups. More than $200 million are allotted for autism research and services in the US.

But India is much behind in autism services and has a long way to go in this regard. The onus to do most of the things in India largely rests on nongovernment organizations and private bodies. While government support comes mostly in the form of financial grants, the process is very lengthy and usually involves a lot of paperwork. Not to mention the complexities involved. The quantity of grants is also limited.

Autism spectrum disorder has been officially recognized as a disability in India. In recent years, the Indian government has stepped up efforts to address the situation. It has recently enacted a legislation for people with disabilities to help them resolve their difficulties to a reasonable extent. But a lot more has to be done in practice.

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And this is perhaps one of the major fears of parents of children with autism. Unlike many countries in the West, there are only a few residential facilities in India that serve people with autism. A child with autism spectrum disorder has to be properly trained to live in a group home because that’s often the pertinent need when parents are no more in a position to extend the necessary support.

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