Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Society: Neuroscience Engagement and Outreach
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are a group of disorders affecting the development of the nervous system leading to abnormal brain function. A few common NDDs include vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI), speech and language impairment, epilepsy, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learning disorders (LDs), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) etc. Globally, nearly 200 million children develop one NDD in the first five years after birth. Data from the 2011 census of Government of India suggests that more than 6 million children below the age of nine are affected by a disability. However, a very recent study suggests this number to be as high as 23 million (Arora et al., 2018). Several factors such as the birth conditions, mother’s nutrition during pregnancy, low birth weight and genetics can contribute towards the development of NDDs. The current project through a series of events aimed at bringing awareness about the epidemiology, diagnosis, prevention of NDDs as well as government guidelines and available policies.
The project included several workshops, meetings, and webinars in a phased manner over a span of 5 months to address several topics such as neuroscience and brain functioning as well as issues related to several neurodevelopmental disorders. Additionally, the project included a social media campaign on awareness on brain functioning as well as awareness on several prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders. In the first phase, a 5-day long neuroscience engagement event was organized virtually for urban/semi-urban population in India. Thereafter, in the second phase, 2 independent workshops were organised for the rural population at local villages in Northern India to educate the local communities on several issues related to the brain health and NDDs. In the third phase, Neuroscience Engagement Workshops were organised to engage the high school students and introduce them with the miraculous functioning of the nervous system as well as the malfunctioning. Moreover, a simultaneous social media campaign provided the audience with the regular updates about the brain functioning and neurodevelopmental disorders over a span of 9 months.