Initiative to promote awareness on autism spectrum disorder

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus joined several other iconic structures worldwide on Wednesday in observing World Autism Day by being lit up in blue on Wednesday.

The ‘Light It Up Blue’ is a worldwide movement where famous structures and buildings are lit up to raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The Mumbai Central and Bandra Terminus railway stations also joined the international initiative, lighting up for the evening.

“A recent report released by a U.S.-based organisation says that one in 68 people globally has ASD. People with ASD constitute perhaps the largest percentage among people with disabilities,” Parul Kumtha, secretary of the Mumbai-based Forum for Autism (FFA), said.

One in 110 people in India, which was 14 million and more than the population of Mumbai, suffered from autism, she said. Seeing such staggering statistics not proportionately supported by widespread knowledge about handling people with ASD even among professionals, FFA released a charter of rights on Monday, detailing the code of ethics for all professionals.

“People with autism have high levels of anxiety mainly because of low socio-communicative skills. People are generally unpredictable, which causes a lot of anxiety to people with ASD. Such people deserve to learn in an environment in which their anxiety levels are not triggered, which can be achieved through educating people, especially the professionals who work with them.”

It is largely parent-support groups such as FFA that were actively engaged in awareness drives relating to ASD. “There is definitely need for more professional bodies to take this up too,” she said.

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