Home Header News World Autism Awareness Day: CSR Initiatives for Individuals with Autism

World Autism Awareness Day: CSR Initiatives for Individuals with Autism

The World Autism Awareness Day is held every year on April 2 since 2007. It is recognized by the United Nations member states as a day to remember the rights of autistic individuals around the world. The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared the day to advocate the need for persons with autism to be able to lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. The day was proposed by UN representatives from Qatar. The day is one of the only seven official health-specific days recognized by the UN.
This day aims to make people understand and accept people with autism, foster worldwide support, and inspire people. It is a day that spread kindness and autism awareness.
According to WHO:- The ratio is 1:160 i.e. one in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood. While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support.
A study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, which was published in the Indian Journal of Pediatrics in 2018, surveyed over 200,000 children aged between 2 and 9 years from all over India and found that the prevalence of autism was 1 in 68.
According to recent statistics, there are around 18 million people living with autism in India, making it one of the largest autistic populations in the world. Despite this, many families in India still struggle to access appropriate care and resources for their loved ones with autism, highlighting the need for increased awareness and support for individuals with ASD in the country.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Kamal Narayan Omer, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council has said, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a host of problems involving the overall cognitive, emotional, social and physical health of a person — in almost all the cases, it is a child who suffers from this common but serious developmental disorder.”
It is estimated that about 1 in 100 children in India under the age of 10 has autism, and about 1 in 8 suffer from at least one neurodevelopmental condition — the estimate for neurodevelopmental conditions is about 10 times higher than the number reported in the Census 2011. According to the Census 2001, 35.3% of Indians fall in the age group of 0 to 14 years, which gives us an idea as to how enormous the disease burden in India is. Parents of children with autism often struggle with a lack of information and infrastructure that can give their children a dignified life.
Mr Narayan Omer remarked that this offers huge scope for corporate organizations with a CSR mandate who can channelize their CSR budget for interventions that improve the quality of life of people with ASD. The affected population is huge and those who are currently offering help can reach a certain number of them, leaving many more individuals in need of help, a need that corporations can help them meet through their CSR.

CSR initiatives for Persons with Autism in India

Pay Autention by Tata Power

Tata Power Community Development Trust (TPCDT), the CSR arm of Tata Power runs Pay Autention.  Recognizing the prevalence of Autism Spectrum affecting 1 in 100 children, the Pay Autention initiative addresses the critical need for a comprehensive support ecosystem.
As per 2021 Rehabilitation Council of India report, there are only 1.2 lakh special educators in India; largely concentrated in 8 states, resulting in a ratio of 1:167 special educators to children, leading to a large gap in support ecosystem. Pay Autention brings together diverse stakeholders, bridging awareness & access gaps in families, institutions, regions, resources, technology, and expert networks.
In February this year, Tata Power Community Development Trust signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (NIEPID), under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The collaboration marked the launch and pilot-testing of an innovative digital Neurodiversity Platform. Developed under the Pay Autention initiative and implemented by Tata Elxsi, this platform, co-curated by NIEPID and TPCDT, serves as an integrated hub for neurodiversity support in India.
The digital platform, a key component of the Pay Autention initiative, aims to interconnect and amplify the reach of special centres, professionals, and institutions for parents, caregivers, public workers, volunteers, and individuals. It envisions transformation of early diagnosis and care through deeper engagement with community initiatives and working jointly with the government, will promote new practices and global interface in the space.
Since its 2022 launch the ‘Pay Autention’ initiative has trained over 2000 public workers, 300 caregivers, and practitioners. Additionally, 10,000 citizens and volunteers have been reached through street plays, videos, and workshops. The web portal and toll-free helpline (18002099488) provide nationwide access to high-quality home care learning material and live support. Currently, Pay Autention connects over 250 NGOs, corporates, and government bodies in neurodiversity, offering services to numerous children.

CSR of HAB Pharma for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder

HAB Pharmaceuticals and Research Ltd. announced partnership with Mumbai’s Jai Vakeel Autism Centre in May last year to support the foundation’s efforts in providing education, skills and healthcare to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Through this collaboration, HAB wishes to strengthen the integration of autistic children and adults into society. The funds are mainly used for therapies that focus on language, social interaction and sensory needs.

Infinity Mall’s Run 4 Autism

Mumbai’s Infiniti Mall hosted Run 4 Autism on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day last year. The run witnessed 500+ individuals, including enthusiastic autistic people participating in a 5 km long run which started at 5.00 am from Infiniti Mall (Malad). Celebrated Indian Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his wife, Alyona Kapoor, were also seen participating in this noble cause and cheering the participants.
The Run 4 Autism is a global initiative to raise awareness about Autism and promote acceptance and inclusion for individuals on the autism spectrum. Celebrating diversity, Infiniti Mall, in association with the Forum for Autism for Autistic people, organized various fun activities for the participants.
Run 4 Autism is a global initiative to raise awareness about Autism and promote acceptance and inclusion

Notebook initiates dialogue on awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of autism in Education

Dr Sudip Chowdhury, Consultant Paediatrician, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurgaon said, “A major misconception worldwide that has particularly been spread by the anti-vaccination lobby is that excessive use of vaccines is causing an increase in the incidence of autism today. This is a myth that has no medical or scientific explanation.  Many people also believe that medical experts today are unnecessary including a larger number of symptoms and behaviours under the autism spectrum, implying that many children are wrongly being diagnosed as ‘autistic’. This is another misconception. Truth is that over time our understanding of the autism disorder has increased and we now know that a wide spectrum of behaviours come under this condition. So, there are mild too severe forms of autism, the former sometimes referred to as ‘high functioning autism’.  Another common misconception is that autistic individuals are mentally and intellectually challenged. Autistic people have developmental delays as well as communication issues but many of them go on to acquire education and work across different fields. Similarly, people with autism do not lack emotions or empathetic feelings as often believed. It is just that they express it differently than others.  COVID-19 has impacted care for autistic kids across the world. Autistic kids often require special teaching and training facilities. They prefer to stick to regular routines. With social distancing requirements and cutting off of institutional care, the daily routines of autistic kids have been disrupted.”
With an aim to challenge this misconception, Notebook, a mobile-first digital learning product that combines video and text content to deliver best-in-class is hosting a discussion on celebrating the difference & overall inclusivity of those on the autism spectrum enabling them to live full, quality lives through awareness and acceptance.
To reach out to the masses, Notebook is organizing an online panel discussion on the 2nd of April 2021, on the topic ” Inclusivity of individuals on the autism spectrum in the Education system”. Joining Achin Bhattacharyya, Founder and CEO, Notebook on the panel are Vahbiz Mistry, Core Group Member Forum of Autism, Dr Sujata Noronha, Director, Kidstreat Pediatric Development Centre and Christina Prabhakar Vaz, Parent & Autism Advocate.
This special webinar will be the 87th episode of “Together for Education”- a series of webinars for educators and parents that Notebook has been organizing since April 2020 and has been attended by over 50,000 educators so far. This particular episode has been conceptualized with an aim to start conversations around the challenges and opportunities that lie with children on the autism spectrum when it comes to learning and education.
Sharing his views on the same, Achin Bhattacharyya, Founder & CEO, Notebook, said, “We believe the knowledge gap can be bridged with open discussions and dialogue.  Having served over 2 Million students now, Notebook has emerged as a leader in the digital education system. Besides growing as a business, we consider it a responsibility to create a positive social impact. Given the phenomenal success of the Together for Education webinar series, we believe it can be a springboard towards the inclusion of differently-abled children into our school education system.”

India Autism Centre by Ratnabali Group

Ratnabali Group has committed to establishing the Indian Autism Centre in Kolkata. The centre is to be built on a 52-acre piece of land. It aspires to be the first of its kind development centre in the world for individuals with autism. The Center will be equipped with residential, day-care and vocational training facilities for its residents and visiting students and aims to be completed by 2022. Equipped with a professional team and many other resources, India Autism Center aims to address everyone’s educational, emotional and social needs and assist them in reaching their full potential by teaching them essential skills needed to live a more independent life.
The statement said, “India Autism Center believes that by ensuring meaningful employment opportunities for an individual on the autism spectrum, she can lead a life of general well-being and self-sustainability. IAC will provide the right kind of support to the individuals, so that most of them are able to strive for excellence in the workplace, no matter what the nature of employment maybe.”
IAC’s program is designed to identify the strengths of these individuals and to empower them with the necessary skills required to be successful and productive members in both their homes and community.

Amazon India’s Internship Program for Individuals with Autism and other intellectual disabilities

In 2019, Amazon announced its partnership with Sol’s ARC, a Non-Government Organization (NGO), to launch an industry-first pilot program to train young adults with Autism & Intellectual Disabilities. The program is aimed at collaborating with Sol’s ARC to build a specialized curriculum for e-commerce trades and create employment opportunities within the e-commerce sector. This will enable their successful integration into the workforce and help them gain financial independence. The pilot would support trainees who have been identified at Sol’s ARC centre. Amazon will work closely with Sol’s ARC to create internship opportunities for them across different parts of its fulfilment network. Through the course of the program, the NGO would also help create awareness among Amazon employees about Autism & Intellectual Disabilities.