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The Autistic are differently-abled and not 'different'
Autistic Pride Day, a celebration of the neuro-diversity of people on the autism spectrum, is observed on June 18 each year. These days, the autistic people are called differently-abled people. In other words, positive psychologists and pedagogues see autism as a part of human diversity and a difference rather than a disability or abnormality.

Founded by Aspies for Freedom (AFF) organisation, the observance recognises the innate potential in all people to learn and develop, including those on the autism spectrum. The only difference is that their speed of learning is very slow. Thus, autistic people are “unique individuals” who too can learn, and should not be seen as cases for mere medical treatment.

In fact, AFF strives to protect the rights of people with any autism spectrum disorder to live full and productive lives on their own terms. According to organizers of the observance, autistic people have a unique set of characteristics as an expression of neuro-diversity, who experience exclusion because of societal attitudes of disdain or pity towards them. Hitherto, it is being stressed that autism is needed to be seen as another way of being.

Autism as a neural development diversity is characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication symptoms of which become apparent before a child reaches the age of three. Such children do repetitive movement with a deficit in motor coordination, such as hand flapping, head rolling, or body rocking and exhibit extremely limited focus, interest, or activity. Supportive family care and the educational system are the main resources for proper learning and development with psychosocial interventions of autistic children.

It has been found that intensive, sensitive special education programmes and behavior therapy early in life can help children acquire self-care, social, and job skills. The research has shown that intervention by around age three years and proper pre-schooling with speech and language therapy, social skills therapy and behaviour shaping. Later on, one can think of inclusive education and mainstreaming of such children.

Some pedagogues have also found that the Internet has helped autistic individuals bypass nonverbal cues and emotional sharing that they find so hard to deal with in mainstream social setting.

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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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