Public Health Dimensions of Autism Spectrum Disorder in India: An Overview
The global prevalence of an early-onset of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is ~1% and is a priority for the global mental health agenda (1). 78 million people worldwide are affected by autism and the impact on the individuals and families are enormous (2). Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a pervasive neurobehavioral disorder characterized by qualitative impairment in social interaction, communication and repetitive and stereotypic patterns of interests and activities (3). INCLEN study suggests that ASD prevalence across five States in north and west India was as high as one in 125 children between 2-6 years age group and one in 80 among children in 6-9 years age; overall the prevalence in India is estimated to be 1in 89(4). Autism was first described in 1943 among children born in 1930s and prevalence of autism is on the rise as reported from all over the world. Early intervention can ameliorate the morbidity significantly (5). Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder which poses a great challenge to individuals and to societies not just in early ages but across lifespan due to its pervasive nature.
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