“Artistic skill gives these children a skill for life”

“There is so much that these children can do and yet, time, money and resources are spent in trying to teach them what they can’t do and don’t want to learn” says Parasuram Ramamoorthi, Chairman of Velvi Trust.

With the involvement of eight art therapists, Velvi Trust kick started its ‘Art for Autism Festival 2014’ on Friday with different sessions which included painting, theatre and music for small children, teens and adults with autism.

“Every child and adult here has some innate skill and ability”, explains Dr Parasuram.

‘When identified, the artistic skill not only helps them manage themselves but also gives them a skill for life which can support them’ he adds.

During a session on music therapy, the children were given different musical instruments such as a small flute and drums and were asked to try it out.

“Through these sessions, we introduce these children to music and help parents identify the potential and take it further”, says Kavita Kumar, head of Dhoon Foundation, Delhi who is a music therapist.

Seventeen participants across various categories will take part in the sessions over the next three days. In a lively session conducted by Naree Shields from Australia, the participants played simple games with coloured hoops followed by a session on storytelling.

“I use a combination of laughter and movement which helps them open up and express themselves creatively. One of the main challenges associated with autism is for the children to interact and connect which I hope to bring about” she explains.

While the trust has been offering art sessions for autistic children for the last seven years, the response has been poor.

Stressing on the need for autistic children to express themselves in a way they like and are interested in, Dr Parasuram says that even the autistic children who don’t speak have a skill which needs to be identified and encouraged.

Apart from the 18 special schools in the city, a few regular schools too have an inclusive set up where autistic children are enrolled as well. “While an inclusive set up has to be appreciated, a definite increase in awareness and interest among the parents is necessary to explore options in art as it is something that the children will want to express themselves through”, Mr. Ramamoorthi concludes.

More In: Madurai