Ahmedabad: Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man", Sean Penn in "I Am Sam", Ben Affleck in "The Accountant" or, closer to home, Shah Rukh Khan in "My Name is Khan" – they play characters with spectrum of autism (ASD). People with this condition have impaired social interactions, but they are by no means defined by the condition itself.
April 2 is marked globally as Autism Awareness Day. This year's theme is "Assistive Technologies, Active Participation". City experts said that awareness has grown in recent years with the increasing availability of more centers geared toward children with special needs. But they said that early diagnosis and intervention are still the need of the hour.
Madhu Singh, director of the BM Institute of Mental Health, said the Disability Rights Act included autism as one of the shortcomings. Bhanuprasad Chauhan, a member of the local committee of Parivaar – National Confederation of Parent Organizations (NCPO), said: "It is very important for the family and the support system to understand the person to help them lead a decent life."
Dr. Ajay Chauhan, superintendent of the Governmental Hospital for Mental Health, said people with autism can lead a normal life with the right intervention. "It is true that the prevalence of other conditions, such as epilepsy, is about 15-20% in people with autism, compared with 2% in other people," he said. Dr. Ketan Patel, a homeopath from Ahmedabad, said he advocated swimming and sport for people with ASD when others were against. "Due to the nature of the condition, the treatment is still evolving," he said.