Working with the autistic, a couple from Thiruvanmiyur are showing the way to create inclusive society. Vipasha Sinha reports
There are two ways of dealing with people with autism — treat them differently or treat them like one among us. A couple from Thirvyanmur is setting an example by doing the latter. When Shikha (47) and Arvind Kaushik (50) realised that their first child was autistic, they decided not to let this affect them.
To understand her daughter better, Shikha joined many courses and training programmes on autism and now is a trainer herself. After moving to Chennai in 2007, Shikha and her husband decided to make their long-time wish a reality.
“Those with autism find it hard to land a stable job in their 20s. I wanted to create an opportunity where they can work and get rewarded for their work,” says Shikha.
On December 3, 2012, they started Devodhyog, an enterprise run from home which employees people with autism to make natural personal care products.
“We do not market our products as something made by special people. We don’t want sympathy. We want our products to sell because they are good,” says Arvind.
A lot of work went in before the launch of the products.
Only after the samples got good reviews from friends and family were they launched in the markets. “These are made of natural ingredients with no chemicals. For some of our products, we get raw materials from other parts of the country. We have been to every nook and corner of Parry’s to get the ingredients. From manufacturing to packaging and deciding the contents on the cover has been done by us,” says Arvind, who believes Devodhyog’s products is on par with others in the market. Devodhyog started with eight members, of whom six are people with autism and the other two helpers. Arvind, Shikha and their two children treat their employees as family. “The work timing is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and we have a cab drop everyone back home. We also take our workers for movement therapy at a gym in Alwarpet,” says Shikha.
Their next plan is to start a residential home for people with special needs. For more details, contact: 9710906634