First National Confab on Autism

First National Confab on AutismFirst National Confab on Autism

One in every 100 newborns in the country has autism, says Dr. Leyla Ataei, scientific secretary of the upcoming First National Autism Conference.

“Global data shows the number of children diagnosed with autism, or related disorders, has grown at what many call an alarming rate,” she said at a press conference, Khabaronline reported.

The prevalence of autism has jumped dramatically since the 1970s worldwide. A review of US studies found that it increased 10-fold between the 1970s and 1990s, from less than three cases per 10,000 children to over 30 cases. The rate currently stands at 1% of the entire population in Iran.

Since researchers have suggested the sharp increase could be caused partly by nonetiologic factors such as changes in diagnosis reporting practices, Ataei believes it is crucial to prioritize diagnostic methods for autism to catch its early onset in children, and called for raising collective awareness on the disorder.

The seminar aims to focus on the current state of autism, review previous experiences and measures, and draw on the expertise of other countries in addressing the problem.

“The disorder that robs people of their ability to socially communicate can be controlled if diagnosed in a timely manner,” she stressed.

Autism is a complex neurodevelopment disorder. Many causes have been propounded, but the reasons are questionable and still unknown. It is believed to be largely inherited, although its genetic causes are still unclear.

The conference will discuss this aspect in detail, in addition to issues of medicinal complications, and empowerment of the afflicted and family support.

“Measures on autism so far have been scattered, but they should be brought under one umbrella,” Ataei said.

The 2005-2025 Vision Plan envisages cooperation with the Psychology and Counseling Organization of Iran, Health Ministry, State Welfare Organization, Special Education Organization, and Neuroscience Research Center to this end.

“The Iranian Bavar Autism Center, a non-profit and non-commercial organization established in 2007 by volunteer professionals, and the US University of California Davis MIND Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopment Disorders) have expressed readiness to assist,” she noted.

The conference will be held on November 2-3 by the Iranian Rare Disease Foundation (RADOIR) at the Presidential Hall for Public Events in Chenaran St., Fereshteh St., Tehran.