Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs communication, development & perception of senses. Autism in India is hugely debilitating because of the stigma attached to having a child who is not normal. There are too many attempts to squeeze the child into a box & hardly any to identify strengths & work to enhance the child's innate abilities. Ignorance, prejudice & lack of adequate professional options have made Autism in India a huge challenge. The isolation & marginalization of those with Autism is of an alarming degree. Solutions for education, livelihood and assisted living are also few & for the most part, inaccessible.
More than 18 Million children & adults now have Autism in India!
2.2 Million children like me in India.
Autism is Growing!
1 in 68
of us children
I got thrown out of this school because I pushed a girl!
Why does everyone have friends except me?
I get through exams but I don't know why or how?
Mama feels sad as I got kicked out of school because I am not normal, not sure what that means!
That child's screaming makes my head burst!
With a diagnosis of Autism in India all hopes for a normal life are over. Many parents refuse to accept the diagnosis & destroy any chance of their child reaching their potential by forcing him along paths that he cannot traverse. In turn, a child is pushed into the most uncomfortable situations like in a regular school to cut away the parts of the child that don't fit. Instead of working with the unique gifts that children on the spectrum possess, efforts are put into removing all signs of autism. Frequently, siblings are made to bear the burden of taking care of their autistic brother or sister after the lifetime of the parents breeding resentment & ensuring that there is more dependency instead of less. Society for the most part does not support including such children. Any odd behavior is ridiculed. The predominant emotion here is disgust & it is made clear that parents cannot allow them to step out into a world that is meant only for the normal people.
I am kept apart here, I sit with the normal kids only at lunch time. I have no friends. No one talks to me. I am ISOLATED!!!
I sit in a class with kids screaming, rolling & zoning out. I am singing rhymes. I am so bored and so irritated with these sounds.
I learn, I draw, I make pots, I sculpt, I act, I talk, I laugh, I am celebrated. I am spoken to like I matter & made to understand why I must behave in a particular way. I am HAPPY!
I sit in a class with 35 children. They make fun of me and are always telling me to go away. I do not understand what the teacher is teaching and I am OVERWHELMED!
Regular schools or alternative schools, although mandated by the government to provide the required support, are unequipped to handle children with Autism. It is usually parents who want their children to fit in with their peers. Special schools tend to lump a range of disabilities together and programs which are made to be a one-size-fits-all simply do not work. Aggressive behaviors increase due to a lack of comprehension as the curriculum does not meet it's objectives. No work to increase comprehension is done & that in turn makes the gap in the child's understanding grow to an insurmountable level. Inclusion exists only in theory. After years of studying foisted on the child, he still sees no meaning in it & fails to connect with academics, it's value for his/her independent survival and or with financial independence. At Sense Kaleidoscopes, we are breaking all norms and designing new learning spaces for Autism.
I do not know how to live independently. I do not know what to do, I am always upset & I am alone most of the time locked in a room!
One of the most common blind spots when it comes to education, intervention programs and therapies for Autism in India is that the fate of the child as an adult is not considered. Children with Autism grow into adults with Autism with the cognition of a 6, 7 or maximum 9 year old. Stories of aggression, non-compliance & regression with communication, life and social skills are very common. Most are put into monotonous, mechanical activities which do not need them to think and others are in buddy systems which are hardly sustainable. There is no progressive growth or passion for work or even a slight dent in their mode of functioning. Employability among those with Autism which is based on their strengths is almost non-existent in India. The earnings from such options do not allow for independent existence. This again creates a cycle of dependency in those with autism even as they grow into adulthood. Eventually Autism ends up lonely and abandoned. This results in people on the spectrum with no targeted training, no ability to get or hold down a job and living in isolation and depression. Large numbers of potential minds are thus, wasted!