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THE GOVERNMENT Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, has started a survey to find the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children in the city. Doctors claim that it is for the first time that such a study has been started. ASD is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder which affects a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others.
Doctors from the Department of Psychiatry, GMCH, maintain that the aim of the study, which is funded by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is to find out the prevalence of ASD in the city. The GMCH doctors had earlier sent a proposal to the ICMR, which was approved. “Until now, there are only hospital-based ASD studies available regarding autism prevalence. They don’t give a true picture about Chandigarh because city hospitals see patients from all the neighbouring states. This study will give us the prevalence of autism in the city,” Dr Priti Arun, from the Department of Psychiatry, GMCH, told Chandigarh Newsline on Monday.
“We have also plans to study the causes of ASD among the children. For the study, children aged between 1.5-10 years of age will be taken.” She added that for the study, they had divided the city into three zones. “We have taken a sample size of one lakh children for the study. We have prepared a questionnaire in Hindi which is being filled out by parents of the children suffering from this disorder,” said Dr Priti.
The GMCH is also running a weekly autism clinic at the institute. The number of cases coming to the clinic has increased. “The prevalence has increased a lot. At our clinic, we receive cases from neighbouring states. I am seeing seven-eight new cases every month. Earlier, the number used to be very less,” added Dr Priti.