The department of psychology in collaboration with the Pakistan Center for Autism organized a day-long international conference “Inclusion in the workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in Post Pandemic World” to create awareness regarding the Autism spectrum disorder.The event was held here at the Arts Auditorium of the University of Karachi on Thursday.
Dr Mansur Choudhry from the University of Oklahoma USA while sharing data from the World Health Organization informed the audience that about one in 160 children has an ASD and mentioned that this estimate represents an average figure, and reported prevalence varies substantially across studies. Some well-controlled studies have, however, reported substantially higher figures.
He said that the prevalence of ASD in many low and middle-income countries is unknown and added that according to the survey done by the Center for Disease Control USA in 2014, 1 in 59 children have been identified with ASD. Dr Choudhry observed”Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. He said that in 2021, the CDC reported that approximately one in 44 children in the US is diagnosed with ASD and boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.”
Dr Mansur Choudhry added that Hong Kong is at the top position where one out of every 27 children has been diagnosed with autism. Followed by Hong Kong is South Korea where one out of 38 children is being diagnosed with autism.
The chief guest and renowned child specialist Professor Dr Ghaffar Billo shared that Pakistan is among those developing countries which still do not have population-based data on autism. It was estimated in 2019 that out of every 120 children, one is diagnosed with autism.
He mentioned that 35 percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school.
He talked about neglect in autism care and stressed that national and international conferences should be held every year not only in Karachi or other major cities but across the country. Dr Billo highlighted social disruption in society and informed the audience that bonding with mothers has been decreased.
“It is a big dilemma of society that mother gives electronic devices to a child so that he or she could eat. An autistic child gets only 15 percent improvement after being diagnosed and later give better results if he or she has family support and bounding.”
Meritorious Professor Dr Iqbal Afridi discussed the history of autism and shared that medications are suggested after examining the symptoms and behavior of an ASD child. He mentioned that besides medicines, described diet and therapy, which maximizes functioning and reduces dependability, is useful for ASD children.
Professor Dr Anjum Bano Kazmi of Iqra University and Dean College of Paeds and Child Health UCHS-CS Professor Dr Shazia Maqbool, observed the prevalence of neurodevelopmental conditions among children of the entire world is continuously increasing.