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Microsoft Research creates information repository on autism in 10 languages

Posted by : Varun Doshi

On : 03 April 2014

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Views : 1239


Microsoft Research Lab India Pvt Ltd is now focusing on autism to create the country’s first information repository on autism and unveiled the India autism awareness campaign in 10 languages including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati and Urdu.  

The company is now working to provide the technical and technological intervention which begins with creating an awareness and leading to possible solutions to manage autism.

As a first step, Microsoft developed the web-portal programme ‘Tell Me More About Autism’ online which was launched by Dr. Yogananda Reddy, president, Elect, Indian Medical Association, Karnataka branch.

On the occasion of the World Autism Day observed annually from 2007 on April 2, Microsoft  brought in experts like Sarbani Mallick, director, Bubbles Centre for Autism, Dr. Nalini Menon, director, Rainbow Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Spastics Society, Dr Nandini Mundkur, head, Centre for Child Development, Jayashree Ramesh, Trustee, Nav Prabhuti Trust for Adults with Autism, Director of ASHA for Autism and Kavita Sharma, co-founder Autism Society of India to be the key stakeholders of the information repository on autism.

With companies like SAP Labs employing six autistic adults since January 2012, there are several technology majors looking to hire individuals with this neural development disorder.

Dr. Rosa Arriaga, visiting researcher, Technology and Emerging  Markets Group, Microsoft said that the need of the hour was to stay connected. The awareness campaign in 10 Indian languages would serve as a public platform primarily because poor awareness, seen to be a serious deterrent to the address autism.

“In Bengaluru, with the support of autism experts, we have been able to craft the right message about the early signs of autism. There are valiant parents, clinicians, researchers and educators who have set up pockets of information about autism on the web . However, the missing link is a central repository where public can find out the ‘who, what when and why’ of autism,” she added.

Hospitals like Manipal and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) are also part of the  project which was kicked off from Bengaluru and gearing to  link up with the  autism population across the country.

The ‘crowd-sourced’ website involves experts and parents of autistic children to provide information and keep connected to handle the condition. It is an editable format and comes from the fact  that the public can update information about the resources on autism from their cities and enable those who need to access at any time, said Dr. Arriaga.

Indian incidence of autism is one in 66 and more prevalent in males.  Challenges are paucity of trained dedicated medical experts in autism and crunch in financial resources to adopt interventional services which are expensive and affordable to the population.

The conditions requires early diagnosis for good prognosis. If detected in the first stages, there is a possibility to provide corrective therapies to reverse the damage detected in the neural pathways of the brain which help to  prevent troublesome behavioural outcomes, said Dr. Mundkur who recommended building capacity for faster and better  evaluation.

Microsoft’s Technology and Emerging Markets Group is also looking at technology to manage chronic disease. This includes asthma where through short message services(SMS) via mobiles could enable  patients and experts share possible solutions to control the condition, said Dr. Arriaga.