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A Complex Developmental Condition

A British television channel used to telecast a serial a long time ago. The story was all about a unique boy, who had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, he could make decisions on his own, and also had a girlfriend. She, too, had mild autism. As usual, the society did not consider them as normal, as they differed from the standards created by the society. They were often not treated kindly at school, in the neighbourhood, and even in the extended family. Even today, such people become objects of unnecessary curiosity of neighbours, are harassed by their friends, and ignored by teachers.

Children can be cruel, too. Often, classmates do not play with their autistic friends and do not invite them to attend their birthday celebrations, apart from disturbing them unnecessarily. Teachers, too, forget to take special care of them.

The serial was telecast at the end of the 20th Century, when the situation was more serious… pelting stones at autistic children and mimicking them were common phenomena. Such things still happen with them, as those children have little ability to protect themselves. It was shown in that serial that the boy was accused of murdering a poor man in his neighbourhood. However, the last scene is worth remembering. After coming out of the police custody, the boy, holding the hand of his girlfriend, was walking away. It would have been better for them if they could really go far away from our society.

One in every 68 children (between one to nine years of age) has ASD, in India. There are about 70 million autistic children in the world, and 10 million among them are Indians. This figure is constantly increasing. Children, suffering from ASD, face difficulty in communicating and interacting with others. Although some autistic children can talk and communicate with others, they usually take more time. Many of them go to normal schools… However, they lag behind other children in study. Others cannot go to school at all. It is quite difficult to understand what goes on inside their minds, what they think, and what they like. Many autistic children do not like the company of strangers at all. Instead, they feel comfortable with dependable and close people.

With the advancement of Medical Science in recent times, there is also an improvement in their teaching methods. Still, Medical Science has a long way to go to make these children self-reliant. One should also consider the condition of their parents, who are raising their children with infinite patience, abandoning all the joys of life. Meanwhile, the question raises here is: How will our society accept these children in their absence? Frankly, our society is not so civilised.

A society can be called civilised when it protects the minority, and the young. There are no more helpless minorities like these children. Perhaps, we are still stuck in a Spartan society.

Autistic child

Time has come for society to be aware, to make the society aware, and to make accountability of our Government mandatory.

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