There is good news for parents of young children who are diagnosed with autism. Research conducted by the New Horizons Child Development Centre, a multi-disciplinary therapy centre in Mumbai, found that with the proper intervention, the autistic condition in children can be improved.
As reported by DNA, the improvement of the children in the study was assessed based on the standardized Autism rating scale. New Horizons’ clinical director Sohini Chatterjee said, “We found that the scores showed remarkable improvement. If a child had higher severity of symptoms of autism spectrum, after the therapy, the standardised autism rating scale showed the child to have lower severity.”
Autism is a complex neurological disorder that affects communication skills and social behavior. Autistic children have a hard time expressing themselves and showing affection. These behaviors lead them to often be stigmatized due to lack of awareness and understanding. To date the causes are not well understood and no complete cure has been found.
The clinic’s founder Dr Samir Dalwai, developmental pediatrician, said, “It is generally thought that autism cannot be cured. Our centre’s research wing conducted a secondary analysis of changes in children diagnosed with ASD, after receiving intervention in 2014.” After the treatment, the children’s ability to communicate and interact improved as well as their overall understanding. “It was observed that children improved in eating and dressing on their own, engaging in play activities and physical coordination,” said Dr Bansari Bhoite, a member of the research team. New Horizon’s findings are similar to those of a Stanford University Medical Center study that was reported in October 2014.
New Horizons’s Facebook page says it provides 1 on 1 therapy and operates 5 branches and is in 3 schools in India. The center currently treats 70 autistic children. For the study, New Horizons worked with 30 children, aged 2-7, with the majority being 2-3 years old, who were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) and are being treated at the centre. These children were all treated for 6-12 months, 2-3 times weekly. The children’s parents were also instructed on therapy to give their children at home.
The study is a boost to autism research and awareness in India, where information on the disorder and treatments is usually sourced from research done abroad. It is estimated that 10 million children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in India and one in 66 newborns is affected. While the challenge is to make treatment available for every child and family that is affected by ASD, studies such as these are much-needed as they encourage families and guardians of autistic individuals that these children can be integrated successfully in society with the right help.