The New Indian Express, Kochi Print Media Coverage on February 19 2019.
By Anu Kuruvilla
Express News Service
KOCHI: At first sight, they might appear to be totally incapable of doing tasks which other children complete without any fuss. However, what people don't know is that the brain of an autistic child is capable of learning. These kids can be trained KOCHI: At first sight, they might appear to be totally incapable of doing tasks which other children complete without any fuss. However, what people don't know is that the brain of an autistic child is capable of learning. These kids can be trained to perfect skills that come easy to them and hence prepare them to live fruitful adult lives.
They have a kaleidoscope of senses which needs to be guided into the right track. This is what Sense Kaleidoscopes, an academy for youngsters with autism and Asperger's, does. On Friday, nine students from the school will be showcasing their artwork at the Outsider Art Show at Kochi Biennale.
"The nine students are Rohit, Kalash, Adarsh, Pranav, Shreyas, Sakshi, Deeptanshu, Ayush and Shashwat. Their ages range from 17 to 23 and the works speak for the artists," said Anima Nair, co-founder, Sense Kaleidoscopes. The school, a unit of Ayathi Trust, is based at Hennur in Bengaluru.
"We have been operational for the past six years. Our aim is to hone the skills of the students in order to make them professional artists," she said. "We focus on visual arts as a means to sustainable livelihood. We have created the only autism-specific arts curriculum in India, which is designed to create professional artists out of the youngsters who come to us with an inclination towards the arts," said Anima.
"Each child gets a different programme based on their strengths and obsessions. The programmes are decided based on the outcome of an internal assessment done at the time of admission," she said. Working with these strengths ensures continued motivation on the part of the children to learn and thrive, she added.
"We have visual arts, pottery and print departments in addition to a remedial academic department. Our academic section works with technology and focuses on functional learning with the aim of improving comprehension. We believe the comprehension building programme together with high-level skilling is key to making independence possible," Anima said.
But why art? Anima said because art is a great way to channelise the interests of our children. "It reduces undesirable behaviours while keeping the children happily engaged in creating works that are unique and self-expressive. With growing consumerism, we believe merchandising as well as selling the children's art directly will allow them to earn a respectable income. Currently, the percentage of adults with autism who are employed in even a part-time capacity is negligible. We aim to change that," said Anima who decided to found this school along with Akshayee Shetty after failing to find a proper institution for her son who is autistic.
According to Anima, every child has his or her unique style. "We are happy to be a part of the first-ever Outsider Art show supported by the Kochi Biennale. These kids are well set on their way to becoming professional artists in the next few years. It is a great opportunity for our kids since they are getting to show their works to a world audience," she said.