“The iPad is almost like a wheelchair for my son. With the help of visual tactile and auditory feedback, the iPad’s responses are immediate,” said Akila Vaidyanathan of 17-year-old Nishanth, her non-verbal autistic child.
As many as 68 persons with autistic disorders (including four each from two other centres catering to persons with special needs which replicated the project) have been successfully trained in the usage of computer and iPads under Prayas — a project of the Autism Society of India (ASI) and Spastics Society of Karnataka (SSK).
Speaking during a four-day workshop to train professionals to implement technology for the benefit of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which began at the SSK here on Tuesday, Kavita Sharma, centre head, Prayas, said individuals in the age group of five to 20 years were trained under the programme to help develop cognitive and social skills. The workshop coincided with World Autism Awareness Day.
“Under the programme Daksh, we have created 30 lessons on computer-related skills. We have uploaded on the website www.learn4autism.com which is free. It is not a product-based curriculum, it is process based,” Ms. Sharma said. At least 20 per cent of those trained were employable in open, sheltered, supported employments or for self-employment.
The next offering is Daksh Vishesh, which Ms. Sharma said is product-based curriculum. Along with grading a set of skills, there will also be a soft skills module, she added. Prayas is now ready to be catered to a fifth batch of individuals.
At another programme, a lecture-cum-demonstration on music and movement therapy was held for the staff and the parents of the students of Asha School for the Special Children, run by the Karnataka and Kerala Sub Area of the Indian Army.
Ganesh Anantharaman, director, Sampoorna Music Therapy Centre for Children with Autism, and Mithila Ballal, dance and movement therapist, advocated for the importance of including music and dance therapy as a part of the regular curriculum for children with special needs. It enhances their skills in language and communication, social interaction and memory retention, and also has a calming effect which improves their behaviour, attention and listening skills, they said.