“Madurai is showing less interest. I am trying to motivate the parents. They still do not see or understand the reality of autism,” declares Prof.Parasuram Ramamoorthi, chairman, Velvi Trust.

The Trust has planned to distribute pamphlets on autism to create awareness as part of the World Autism Awareness Week that falls between April 1 and 7. The pamphlets would be distributed among public at Periyar Bus Stand and Goripalayam.

The city-based Trust imparts training in use of arts and drama to help autistic children grow into adults with dignity and responsibility.

Sam Marcus, a 24-year-old, has been chosen by Ability Foundation for CavinKare Achiever Award 2013. To achieve this award, says Ramamoorthi, Sam worked tirelessly on his passion, that is music. “His parents sacrificed their interests and professional goals and they made it for him. Today, Sam is a renowned singer, composer and musician because his parents identified his problems and started early intervention,” he adds.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term that includes Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, Rett Syndrome and a few other disabling conditions. “Statistics show one out of every 100 children having this disability in India.”

Until a year ago Autism was not included in the list of disabilities. It was often grouped with mental retardation for being eligible for Government concessions. Thanks to the initiative of the National Trust of India, Autism Society of India and other agencies that autism is today accepted as a disability.

The National Trust of India has developed a simple questionnaire for parents to do a self assessment prior to diagnosis. Early diagnosis helps the child. Now, it can be done when the child is one year old. Diagnosis between 12-24 months helps as the child is ready for early intervention.

“Parents have to first accept that their child is different and with special needs, instead of blaming each other and Karma,” says Ramamoorthi.

Experts have always maintained that early intervention helps autistic children to learn daily and social skills. But what is important is that the society also needs to accept such children “as individuals with a difference.”

The autism awareness month and programmes are aimed at creating awareness among general public that autism is neither a disease nor madness.

Velvi has opened a counselling and training centre for adults in autism spectrum disorder. The Centre will guide young persons above 16 years in various aspects of independent and assisted living. It also offers tests in the Multiple Intelligence to identify specific intelligence level of the person. Once the intelligence is identified, the young person is trained almost like in Gurukul system.

For appointments and more information write to parasuram.ramamoorthi@gmail.com or Call: 94898 73751/9655573751

Dr. Parasuram Ramamoorthi lists out the multitudinous possibilities for young persons in ASD:

Kinesthetically alert: May be an athlete /swimmer/boxer/ long –distance runner/ soccer, Basketball /Golf/ Gyms/health and fitness clubs.

Musically keen: Tabla player/mridangist/drummer/ keyboard player/flautist/saxophonist/ vocal singer (very rare though)/ composer/guitarist.

Linguistically aware: Speak several languages/translator/writer/poet/columnist/ (if there is a combination of kinesthetics) may be a sports columnist.

Spatially alive: painter/designer/architectural designs/ photographer/vidographer/film maker/set designer/costume maker/ make-up artist/landscape artist/ sculpture/ pottery Gardener (if drawn to nature).

Naturally alive: gardening/breeding animals/ dogs/horses/ kennels/ cow farming/ agriculture/ carpentry/ pet shops/ eco-farming/ poultry.

Machine-friendly: Mobile repair/ motor cycle /car mechanism/ tool making/ computer programming/ software making/ designing new machines/ repairing machines.

Inter-personnel skills: Journalist/ model/actor/ Stand-up Comedian/ filmmaker (with a more visual sense) PR and events organizer/ travel-guide/ running a Kitchen/café/ arts studio/ gallery of artists in the spectrum.

Intra-personal: May be a Yoga and fitness guru/ evolving autism as a philosophy.

Early symptoms

Not having eye and face contact

Resistance to touch and hug

No response to sounds

Hesitation to mingle with other children

When given many toys, the child gets obsessed with only one

Not responding to when his/her name is called

Repeating one word

Constantly running around, not sitting at one place