“I don’t know what that is.”
This is the response I received, repeatedly, when asking Jaipur locals if they knew what autism is.
From a school principal to well educated university students, very few people were aware of the condition at all. Despite this, when describing what the autism spectrum is and how it affects those with the condition, the response was instant recognition.
Oh they knew someone like that.
There were kids like that in school.
Right, those people like that.
So if a proportion of the people in India, do not know of a lifelong developmental condition that affects an estimated 21.7 million worldwide, what is happening for those with autism in India?
Research into the non-government organisations of India revealed that a variety of special schools offered support to autistic children. Autism support groups were also able to be found quite easily, but did not respond for comment on the issue of awareness.
So that bares the question, if support groups and NGOs providing education to low functioning autistic children exist - how is it that disorders such as autism, ADHD, ADD and similar are not common knowledge within standard public education?
This raises concern about what is happening to the children that fall under the radar.