What is Autism? A syndrome rather than a clinical disease and is the most common form of pervasive development disorder. It is a neuro-development disorder & manifests in children by the age of 3years.

What are the Signs of Autism? Impairment in Social skills, Communication skills (both verbal & non-verbal) and distinctive behavior patterns. There is often an unusual speech pattern like echoing what is said to them, repeating a word over and over, reversing “I” and 'You' when expressing needs etc. A child with autism may enjoy rocking or spinning either self or objects.

They may have sensitivity to touch and sounds, and occasionally they may appear to be hard of hearing. Any one or more of their senses may be affected resulting in abnormal ways of relating to people, objects and events in the environment.

Children with autism may have very limited ability to pretend play and may not play appropriately with toys; they may however engage in playing with objects which are not toys.

Who is susceptible? There are no genetic or medical tests to predict autism. Its onset may occur at birth or a child may have a period of normal development followed by deterioration of verbal and social skills around 1½ to 3 years. Statistics show that boys are affected more than girls and the effected male-female ratio is 4:1.

What causes Autism? You cannot cause a child to be autistic. It is not caused by unhappy environment, emotional trauma, lack of attention by working parents or poor handling by a mother.

In most cases of autism the causes are never known; however some researchers believe that 10% of the cases are due to genetic conditions. It is also indicated that structural damage to the central nervous system can lead to autism.

How common is Autism? As per the data release of CDC in April 2012, the prevalence of Autism in USA is approximately 1 in 88 children. While the disorder is not rare in India, there is no data available to provide an estimate of prevalence due to lack of diagnostic services, awareness and misdiagnose of the condition.

What are the related problems? Autism can occur with associated conditions like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, visual impairment and epilepsy etc.

Can it be prevented/cured? Since there are no known causes of Autism, it cannot be cured or prevented. Many therapies, diets and medications are being tried by researchers but nothing is proven.

Treatment/Management of Autism: The only effective treatment/management of autism is a consistently structured training program that suits the individual needs of the child. Early identification and intervention (before age 5 years) at both school and home is crucial to child's progress.

Prognosis: Given an appropriate and consistent intervention, children with autism can make significant progress. Individuals with autism usually continue to require services and support as they age, but many are able to work successfully and live independently or within a supportive environment..

Do autistic people have obsessions?
Yes, People with autism often have obsessions.

What are the Myths about autism? A person with autism feels love, happiness, sadness and pain just like everyone else. Just because some of them may not express their feelings in the same way others do, does not mean at all that they do not have feelings - THEY DO!! It is crucial that the Myth - Autistic people have no feelings - is destroyed. The myth is a result of ignorance, not some conspiracy. Therefore, it is important that you educate people who carry this myth in a helpful and informative way.

Not all people with autism have an incredible gift or savantism for numbers or music. People with autism are ordinary people... with autism.

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings." - Helen Keller