With Priyanka Chopra’s act of an autistic girl in critically-acclaimed film Barfi bringing into focus the issues faced by children suffering from the disorder, a new study has found that significant improvement in their social interaction and motor behaviour is possible.
Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here have shown that this could be achieved through a well-designed intervention programme addressing autistic children, giving hope to thousands of affected parents, considering that autism is on an alarming rise in the world.
The doctors found that impaired development and poor social interaction are the main features in children with autism.
Children ranging in ages 3 to 10 years were observed for a year during which interventions like eye contact exercises, verbal therapy, attention improvement exercises were addressed to them.
Results of the behavioural intervention were more than positive with clinical psychologists and paediatricians finding that during over a year-long follow up of autistic kids they significantly improved their speech, social interaction, cognitive skills and behaviour.
“The intervention has given some hope for children with autism. Working together we can improve the status of such children and help correct the deficiency to an extent,” said Vinod Paul, head of the paediatrics department at AIIMS.
The most recent study conducted in October 2009 by the National Institute of Health in US showed that the prevalence of autism is now one in every 90 children, a drastic rise from 1 in every 150 reported in 2008.
Showcased during an exhibition, the study followed 50 children out of 75 who attended AIIMS autistic clinic for a year.
Doctors found 90 per cent of these children with autism had mental retardation as the main presenting feature. In 85 per cent children, poor social interaction was observed and in 80 per cent poor, eye contact was observed.