Awareness and empathy can embolden autistic people

New Delhi: Whether an unreasonable airline denies them a seat or an inconsiderate doctor refuses to examine them, autistic people have for long faced unnecessary discrimination for no fault of theirs. Experts nonetheless believe that awareness and a little empathy are the only solutions to improve the situation.

Worldwide, April 2 is celebrated as the World Autistic Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults with Autism so that they can lead full and meaningful lives.

Autism is an incurable complex neurobiological condition that impacts communication, behaviour and social relationships and affects 1 in 110 people. It has become the fastest growing global disorder.

“Autism is an invisible condition, that is, an autistic person may not necessarily be on a wheel chair or on crutches, so people don’t accommodate for the person,” said Berry Barua, founder of NGO Action for Autism (AFA).

Checklist to spot autism by age 1

“People tend to relate autism with rude behaviour and this is all because of lack of awareness,” she added.

As per Barua the discrimination against autistic people is traumatising, especially for the parents and there is an urgent need to spread awareness to demystify it.

“I have had parents who complained that some dentists refused to check their autistic kids because they won’t sit still. The doctors neither had the time nor the patience so they were shown the door,” said Barua.

For 36-year-old Abha Singh, it was a harrowing experience last year when she decided to fly from Kolkata to Delhi with her autistic 13-year-old daughter.

“She was sitting on her seat and just flapping her arms. The next thing we know we were asked to get off the flight as my child was a potential risk to the other passengers,” said an infuriated Singh.

“Can’t they show a little compassion? What harm could a 13-year-old girl do more so when she is autistic,” lamented the north Delhi resident.

The parents further agreed that raising an autistic child can be quite draining both physically and mentally. However, at the end of the day the smile and cheers on their kid’s faces is all that matters.

“Raising an autistic child is tiring. But I know that my child is doing the best he can and is very happy in his school with his friends so that satiates me,” said Indrani Basu about his 19-year-old autistic son – Ayan who goes to a special school run by AFA in Delhi.

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