The Centre shall ensure timely and affordable treatment to people affected with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), says a private member bill moved by NCP MP Supriya Sule. The Autism Spectrum Disorders (Recognition and Treatment) Bill, 2017 is aimed at recognising the rights of individuals suffering from autism spectrum disorders and making its treatment accessible and affordable. The bill proposes that treatment of ASD including counselling, therapeutic sessions and rehabilitative care shall be provided free of cost at public health centres. At the same time, state governments shall recruit more mental health care professionals in public hospitals to maintain the doctor-patient ratio. i.e. at least a doctor for every 40 patients suffering from ASD, it says.
The proposed legislation also says that the central government shall provide funds for medical research, which will ascertain the causes of ASD and other developmental disorders. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader pointed out that the country lacked a comprehensive law on dealing with the disorder. Therefore, there is a need to ensure free treatment as well as invest in research and development of the surveillance and information systems to capture the data on ASDs, she said.
In majority of the cases, ASDs manifest themselves in children below 1 year. “The government can mitigate the incidence of ASDs through many measures such as encouraging screening of pregnant women and ensuring that they get their vaccination and maintain their hemoglobin levels,” Sule said. Autism Spectrum Disorders refer to an umbrella group of developmental disorders, resulting from a delay in the maturation of the central nervous system.