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A day to celebrate their special capabilities

Staff Reporter
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47 autistic children show off their skills at a summer camp organised by H2O

A talented lot:Poet Murugan Kattakkada interacts with children with autism at a function organised by H2O in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Gopakumar
A talented lot:Poet Murugan Kattakkada interacts with children with autism at a function organised by H2O in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Gopakumar

For the 47 autistic children, it was a rare day of fun and frolic and a platform to display the skills that they had learnt over the past one month.

Wednesday witnessed the culmination of the vacation classes organised by the Helping Hands Organisation (H2O), which works for the rehabilitation of autistic children.

Poet and lyricist Murugan Kattakada, who inaugurated the function, set the tone for the day by singing his own compositions, and interacting freely with the young crowd. Later in the day, more celebrities, including television artistes and radio jockeys, joined the celebrations.

The children displayed their talents in singing, dancing, instrumental music, and even mimicry. A fashion show was also held.

Most of the parents actively participated in the programmes.

“We have been training these children in various skills at the summer camp. This is the first such endeavour by H2O.

In addition to our regular group of children, those from other institutions were also part of the camp. A majority of them are from economically weak backgrounds, and so the training was free. The group was a mix of autistic people from ages 3 to 24. But a majority of them were less than 14,” says Jolly Johnson, executive director of H2O.

Life skills

The children were given vocational training in handmade jewellery, pot painting, paper-bag making, and screen printing. In addition to this, there were classes in singing and dancing. Special educators gave life skills training to them.

“One of the key sessions of the camp was the one for life skills training. Social skills are an area of weakness as far as a majority of them are concerned. So, we had many interactive sessions with guests and educators to make them competent to survive in the outside world,” says Ms. Jolly.

The challenge

She says that identifying the specific talent of each child is one of the challenges in training them.

“All of them have some special talent, but most of the time these remain hidden. Creating awareness among parents in this regard was also one of the aims of the programme. By meeting other autistic children and interacting with their parents, they could find better ways to tide over the challenges.”

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