– Riya Ganguly
Autism Spectral Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability manifesting in early childhood. There is a wide spectrum of autistic disorders which manifests in characteristics such as unique social interactions, repetitive behavioural patterns, and thinking and problem-solving abilities ranging from highly skilled to severely challenged.
This disorder affects individuals all around the world, irrespective of class, race, gender or socio-economic conditions. Scientific research and statistics show that genetic mutations are largely involved in majority of the autism cases. While there is no medical cure for autism, an early diagnosis allows for a better opportunity to develop the physical and mental health of autistic children and helps provide interventions improving their learning, communication and social skills.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 59 children are likely to be autistic, and it being a lifelong neurological condition, lack of awareness and discrimination associated with this neurodevelopmental condition bears a negative impact on the autistic individuals and their families.
In order to raise awareness about ASD and ameliorate the living standard of those diagnosed with autism, the United Nations General Assembly (on December 18, 2007) adopted the resolution to designate April 2 as the Annual World Autism Awareness Day. This month has also been deemed World Autism Awareness Month in the United States.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Nations has declared the theme for 2021 as ‘Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World’.
As per CDC, people with autism have been proven to be at higher risk for Covid-19 complications owing to their frequent immune disorders and other health problems. Moreover, the quarantine and self-isolation process can particularly prove to be a challenging time for autistic children and their families since they may face difficulties in comprehending the complicated situation and find it challenging to express themselves in a world hindered by a global pandemic which may aggravate anxiety and other autism traits. Furthermore, autistic people may also face difficulties in wearing masks due to sensory issues.
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