Understanding Child Psychological Disorders: Post-Lockdown Surge in ADHD Rates, Exclusive Autism Pre-School in Ahmedabad

In recent years, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism have been on the rise among children, presenting as the most prevalent psychological disorders. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have exacerbated the situation, leading to a significant increase in ADHD cases among children, with many reasons attributed to the prolonged stay of children at home, limiting their social interactions. 

Particularly in cities like Ahmedabad, it has been observed that children aged between 5 to 6 years old exhibit the highest prevalence of ADHD. Additionally, Autism, another neurological disorder, has also seen a surge in diagnosis during this period. Autism manifests differently in children compared to neurotypical peers, further highlighting the need for specialized attention and support. 

This trend underscores the importance of addressing mental health concerns among children, especially during challenging times, and calls for increased awareness and resources to support their well-being.

The prevalence of ADHD is highest in children aged 5 to 6 years

Launch of Pre-schools for Children with Autism in Ahmedabad

Children with autism are born with neurological disorders that require special attention for improvement. Hence, in Ahmedabad city, pre-schools have been initiated specifically for children diagnosed with autism. 

Currently, inquiries for enrollment in such preschools are coming from various cities across the state. According to the curriculum based on the CBSE, from April 2024, about 13 parents have applied for admission to this pre-school for their children.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on ADHD and Autism

Renowned psychologist Dr. Prashant Bhimani has highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism. He stated, “Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, whereas ADHD manifests as behavioral problems in children. 

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about drastic changes. Lockdowns were in place for an extended period, resulting in limited outdoor activities for children. Parents refrained from allowing their children to play outside due to fear of contracting the virus, leading to increased screen time and electronic gadget usage. 

Moreover, the prolonged lockdown made parenting more challenging, with increased conflicts between parents and children. It’s worth noting that during the lockdown, parents paid much more attention to their children. However, some parents failed to provide proper attention, contributing to the surge in ADHD cases post-COVID.”

A child cannot remain attached to any one task at any one place for long

Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurological condition characterized by a significant decrease in the ability to concentrate. In this type of neurological disorder, children’s attention span diminishes considerably. 

They find it challenging to stay focused on one task for an extended period and may struggle to engage in sustained activities. Instead, they often become restless, exhibit impulsive behavior, and may frequently switch between tasks or activities. Additionally, children with ADHD tend to display hyperactive behavior, characterized by excessive movement and restlessness. 

Consequently, they may have difficulty sitting still or completing tasks. Parents of children with ADHD often find it challenging to provide them with the necessary attention and support, while teachers also struggle to manage their behavior in the classroom due to their hyperactivity. Symptoms of ADHD, such as restlessnes-s, impulsivity, and difficulty in focusing, have become more apparent in children in recent times.

Dr. Prashant Bhimani, Psychologist

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

When asked whether autism or ADHD can be completely outgrown, psychologist Dr. Prashant Bhimani explained that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with various stages. Through assessment, caregivers gain insights into how to manage it, whether through counseling, behavioral interventions, or understanding how to interact with the individual. However, autism cannot be entirely overcome. 

On the other hand, children diagnosed with ADHD can normalize with medication and therapy. Counseling for parents is crucial, and certain medications can reduce hyperactivity. While ADHD cannot be entirely cured, managing a child’s condition solely through pressure or therapy isn’t sufficient. Understanding the child’s situation and obtaining the right diagnosis from a psychologist are essential.

The Importance of Psychological Evaluation

Without psychological assessment, placing a child with ADHD in a regular classroom is inappropriate. According to psychologist Dr. Prashant Bhimani, parents have become more sensitive to their children’s needs, leading to overdiagnosis of ADHD. 

Consequently, some children disrupt classrooms without undergoing psychological tests. Any form of neurodevelopmental disorder, including ADHD, requires proper assessment before placement in a classroom setting. While children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may benefit from specialized schools, where they can improve overall development and reduce the severity of symptoms, children with ADHD may not need to be segregated. 

Once diagnosed, if a child’s condition worsens, they can receive specialized care temporarily before returning to mainstream education. This type of neurological disorder doesn’t necessarily require every child to study in separate classrooms. Sometimes, practicing with typical peers can also bring improvements in their condition.

Pre-School for Children with Autism

In Ahmedabad city, pre-schools have been established for children with autism. These pre-schools cater to both typical children and those with autism, allowing them to study together. 

Over the past two years, these pre-schools have been following the CBSE curriculum, and last year, new children were admitted. Starting from the upcoming April session, 13 more children have taken admission. In these pre-schools, not only children with autism but also typical children study together.

Specialized Activities for Children with Autism

Sagar Nayak, the director of a pre-school located in the Nava Vadaj area of Ahmedabad, mentioned that two years ago, the parents of a girl diagnosed with autism sought admission for her in their school. Subsequently, she interacted and behaved like any other typical child under the guidance of the teachers. 

This experience provided us with valuable insights into how to deal with children diagnosed with autism. Consequently, we organized various specialized activities for them, resulting in significant improvements in their behavior and participation. As a result, the number of children with autism gradually increased. 

Currently, we have prepared 26 specialized activities specifically tailored for children with autism. These activities aim not only to stimulate physical activity but also foster mental development. Furthermore, these activities will eventually become part of regular fun activities for typical children as well.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.